Women's Role in Water Conservation in Malaysia

Chan Ngai Weng1 and Vilas Nittivatananon2
1 School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia 11800 Penang, Malaysia
2 SEA-UEM Project, School of Environment, Resources and Development, Asian Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 4, Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120 Thailand
{email 1 nwchan@usm.my}
{email 2 vilasn@ait.ac.t}
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In recent decades, water problems have escalated in Malaysia due to climate change and socio-political reasons caused by population explosion. Increasingly, water supply lags further and further behind water demand. As the total quantity of available water is finite but demand increasing at geometrical rates, Malaysia is facing water problems which have severe impacts, particularly on women. Interestingly, however, being water managers both at home and in the office, women wield tremendous influence on the ways families use and conserve water. Ineffective top-down water management has necessitated the need for consumers, especially women, to play a more active role in water conservation, notably via water demand management (WDM). The role of women is pivotal in curbing domestic wastage, but ensuring wise use and conservation. Since domestic consumers use roughly more than half of the country’s total water demand, WDM is a vital conservation tool. Women are the managers of the family’s water budget. Because of the fact that women use water for most of the domestic chores in the home, they are considered vitally important in water conservation. Women also make decision on the installation of water saving devices. When women save water in the home, they also educate their children and family members about the importance of water conservation. Finally, women themselves need to cut down on water use via substitution of water-saving methods and other personal adjustments. Women who work can similarly exert their influence in the office by impressing upon colleagues and the employer about the benefits of water conservation. This paper attempts to show that water consumers (particularly women) can manage water via WDM in addressing water shortages. All water users need to be involved in a bottom-up approach in a sustained national WDM initiative whereby women are the key players towards achieving sustainable management of water resources.

Keywords: Women in water, Water Demand Management, Water Saving, Domestic Water Audit 
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