This World Water Week, we are thrilled to announce that through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance, we have achieved our goal to empower two million people to improve their access to water and sanitation in India.
This initiative aims to improve and sustain the health and well-being of communities touched by the apparel industry in two states in India, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Mark Breitbard, CEO of Gap, shared the news at SIWI World Water Week. “I am extremely proud of this milestone because it shows the power we have when we work with great partners and use the scale of our business to drive meaningful change.”
Through this community water resilience initiative led by Gap Inc. and USAID since 2017, our implementing partners CARE, WaterAid, Water.org, and the Institute for Sustainable Communities have been working to empower women as advocates for their water needs, improve access to water and sanitation at the village and household levels, and advance water stewardship best practices for cotton farming. The Institute for Development Impact (I4DI) and International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) support the Women + Water Alliance through program evaluation. To date, our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) partners WaterAid and Water.org have reached more than two million people in India with improved access to water and sanitation. The programming will continue to expand its impact through January 2023.
This season, Gap is introducing its first products made with cotton that was grown in villages where the Women + Water Alliance is empowering women and community members to improve their access to clean water and sanitation. In parallel, we are also supporting farmers in those villages to convert to organic cotton-farming practices, to improve local water quality. Pramila is one of those farmers—and a bold dreamer who took the initiative to get involved in village planning for clean water access. Hear her story.
Mark Breitbard also shared how this meaningful work will evolve to continue its impact moving forward. “We’re partnering with the Water Resilience Coalition to create a new phase of the initiative, where we invite other companies to join us in supporting on-the-ground partners in empowering women and communities to improve their water access.” Leveraging the strong structure we’ve built through the Women + Water Alliance, the next phase will evolve with our WASH partners, new co-funders, and new partners to reach even broader scale and new geographies, contributing to the Water Resilience Coalition’s overarching goal to bring climate-resilient access to water, sanitation, and hygiene to 300 million people by 2030.
Judy Adler, Head of ESG, expanded on the promise of the next phase of this collective action initiative. “With a challenge as large-scale as access to clean water and sanitation, we can go further, faster, if we partner with other companies and industries who share our interest in helping to build climate and water resilience in high-risk water basins. Together we can scale our impact while engaging women at the local level as active participants and leaders in decision-making around water access for their communities.”
Companies interested to learn more about the next phase of Women + Water can reach out to the Water Resilience Coalition for more information. Please contact André Villaça Ramalho.