#Personal Stories

India’s Water Girl: Is The Crisis More Acute For Women?

Garvita Gulhati, glass of water
Water Girl: Women and girls in rural India walk miles just to get a pot of water. They spend precious time and energy on a redundant task every single day. Imagine how many hours we could gain and economic growth we could obtain if these women had the simple facility of access to water which we get without moving a finger!

In 2015, India faced one of its worst drought crisis ever. Encumbered, four thousand farmers in a single state took their lives. I started learning more about water crisis; its inequitable distribution and irrational usage. I learnt that 14 million litres of water are wasted every year inside the glasses we leave behind at restaurants and began noticing this first hand. The triviality of this egregious number moved me. That day, I became committed to saving every drop of water I possibly could and launched Why Waste? with the goal of changing the mindsets of people towards water.

Garvita Gulhati,

Garvita Gulhati

Two years later, in 2017, Bangalore city was predicted to run out of water. Wanting to be a part of the solution, I let go of the opportunity to study abroad and made the crucial decision of staying back in the city for my undergraduate studies. By then, I was the only remaining founding member of Why Waste? on the team. However, I knew the immense potential this initiative had in revolutionising change and rebuilt it from scratch. Today Why Waste? is a phenomenally motivated team that has transformed the way millions look at water. Our #GlassHalfFull movement has reached over 500,000 restaurants, prevented over 10 million litres of water from being wasted, and reached over 6 million people. We continue to execute simple ideas to empower every single person to become a part of solving the water crisis be it through our book ‘The Sustainability Stories’ or even through the Why Waste? App. The app allows you to calculate your water footprint and adopt simple ways to save at least 100 litres of water every day.

Women, often the most impacted due to the crisis, have the least say. They are integral to climate change dialogue, not just because of their role and dependence on natural resources, but also because of their disproportionate vulnerability to climate change threats.

From walking into restaurants alone and propagating solutions for water wastage to being called ‘India’s Water Girl’ has been a profound experience. The decision to say no to a seemingly big opportunity so that I could work on a cause for the greater good taught me that each choice holds tremendous value in changing one’s life trajectory. The past six years of my social entrepreneurship journey exposed me to serious social injustices and inequalities in the climate dialogue. Women, often the most impacted due to the crisis, have the least say. They are integral to climate change dialogue, not just because of their role and dependence on natural resources, but also because of their disproportionate vulnerability to climate change threats. While women face a disproportionate burden of climate change, they are the primary mitigators of change when it comes to solving the climate crisis, when given a voice! With a unique sense of empathy and changemaking, women communities are an incredibly powerful asset, collectively pioneering change. Let us bring them to the forefront of the climate dialogue today!

Garvita Gulhati, who has been called the “Water Girl of India”. She founded Why Waste? which has worked with over 5 lakh restaurants and prevented over 6 million litres of water from being wasted. She was recognised by Forbes in 2021 as one of youngest innovators in Asia under 30. She is a youth climate leader for We The Change which aims to showcase climate solutions pioneered by 17 young Indians. The views expressed are the author’s own.