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A new study underscores the dangers of water privatization for women’s health in Canada and around the world.

The report, Women and Water in Canada: The Significance of Privatization and Commercialization Trends for Women’s Health, was prepared by the National Network on Environments and Womens’ Health. (NNEWH)

Access to clean, safe drinking water is a central determinant of health in Canada, as it is all over the world. As the primary caretakers of health, women are double affected by decisions about water governance,” said NNEWH co-director Anne Rochon Ford.

The report identifies several ways privatization hits women hardest, including:

  • Price increases
  • Higher disconnection rates
  • Declining water quality
  • Loss of oversight

The report concludes that poor households, often headed by women, suffer most when water is privatized. Aboriginal women are particularly affected.

The Council of Canadians helped prepare the report, and has submitted it to the United Nations body studying human rights obligations and access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Stephen Harper has claimed that his G8 ‘priority’ are women and maternal health, yet his government continues to undermine international efforts to recognize water as a human right,” said the Council’s national water campaigner Meera Karunananthan.

CUPE has also called on the Harper government to improve access to public water in the global South, where women carry the burden of water access.

Along with the Council of Canadians, Women and Health Care Reform and the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence helped develop the report. The NNEWH study is part of a broader Women and Water project, which is an excellent online resource.