For 15 young girls in Vientiane, Laos, Saturdays mean coming together to learn new skills, gain confidence, and have fun with friends. The Vientiane Scouts supports the growth of girls into capable, assured, and successful women through different activities and experiences. Earlier this month on Saturday, 7 April, the group attended a filter-making workshop hosted by Abundant Water.
The Scouts learnt about ceramic water filters and how to produce them in a few hours. The workshop taught each step of the production process, and everyone got involved by mixing the clay, coffee grain, and water first with their hands and then with their feet. Not only was the workshop informative, it was also lots of fun. With a little help from AW staff, the Scouts were able to mould the filters, and showed off their creativity by inventing a new filter shape: a filter with a kitten head, aptly named ‘kitten filter’. The Scouts group leader wrote to AW after the workshop and said that “the girls had a fantastic time and learned a ton”.
2018 marks eight years since the United Nations General Assembly officially recognised the human right to water through Resolution 64/292. This Resolution acknowledges that sanitation and clean drinking water is crucial to having all human rights. The UN called on countries and organisations to help achieve the goal of clean water for all, as access to safe and clean drinking water has a greater impact on communities beyond physical health. It also has a lasting effect on a community’s environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.
Filter workshops such as this demonstrates AW’s continued commitment to achieving sanitation and clean water for all, as well as our efforts to empower communities, and young women. To empower means to make a person more confident in claiming their rights and controlling their life. The UN actively recognises the importance of this in the Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality. According to UN data from 83 countries and areas, women are three times more likely to spend time on unpaid domestic and care work. This reality is especially highlighted in places where clean drinking water is not readily accessible, as women and girls are usually responsible for collecting water and firewood, and often make long journeys to do so. This keeps young girls away from school and women away from paid work opportunities, as a significant portion of their day is spent collecting and boiling water for drinking.
AW works with both men and women in such communities and teaches how to use and maintain the water filter technology. This not only cultivates new skills, but the new access to safe and clean drinking water continues to positively impact the community. By no longer needing to spend many hours collecting and boiling water, individuals have more time to further their education and other opportunities. The community can also market their skills and provide their knowledge of water filter technology to other communities, continuing the positive cycle.
The AW workshop is just one Saturday morning, but the experience will continue to have lasting and positive effects for years to come as these young women take what they have learned back to their own communities.