Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Kayla Besong makes this connection here…

Natasha Geiling of thinkprocess.org addresses two contentious issues not often paired together in her article “Why Climate Change is a Women’s Rights Issue” from June 24, 2015. The piece discusses matters within the WRE hydrology domain and the reduction of water availability due to climate change. Geiling addresses that women’s rights are often omitted from the conversation on climate change, when women are those who are most effected. In most countries, women are not only the ones who care for their families–providing food and water—but they also make up 60-80% of the agricultural work force in Sub-Saharan Africa and 50% in Asia. With climate change pressing these women are particularly vulnerable due to droughts and poor soil creating poor conditions. Desertification reaches 45% of The article states that 63% of rural households depends on women for their drinking water. As climate change increases and the amount of available drinking water decreases the 40 billion hours spent collecting water per year by the women in Africa will only increase. This furthers the issue when young women have to spend more time obtaining resources instead of attending school. A proposed solution to fight both gender inequality and climate change lies within sustainable technologies and education in STEM fields. A slow increase in participation from women to take action has been displayed through the United Nations as well as Heads of Delegations. Policy makers are beginning to take notice and adjust their views to tackle climate change and women’s rights at the same time because “you can’t obtain sustainable development without gender equality.” Geiling professionally addresses each issue carefully, providing numerical facts that were validated by Denton, 2002. The article did not present any facts on how the drought is directly effecting women in Africa and Asia. Desertification is occurring in 46% of Africa which has declined the economy up to 60% historically (Loucks, 2005).

The WRE issue presented impacts areas on global, economic, environmental, and societal needs because climate change is a global problem that effects the overall sustainability (people, planet, and profit) of vulnerable communities. This article is not just for women, but also those who willing to standby women to fight climate change as equals. The decline of available water for drinking and agriculture in developing countries is in result of global and environmental changes causing shifts in societal and economic stability. This is described in Loucks, 2005, where the change in available water causes a domino effect of events including a declining economy, increased health risks, and population decline.

Figure 1 Women waiting to obtain water for their families Source: CNN






Denton F. Climate change vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation: Why does gender matter? Gender & Development 2002;10(2):10–20. doi:10.1080/13552070215903.


Loucks DP, van Beek E. Water Resources Systems Planning and Management – Facts about Water. 2005.