Boundaries: A Casebook in Environmental Ethics

By Christine E. Gudorf; James E. Huchingson | Go to book overview

seven
Water

Economic Commodity and Divine Gift

“THE WOMEN WERE very outspoken this morning,” remarked one nongovernmental organization (NGO) director to another over lunch at a roadside café in Denizli, Turkey. He frowned as he said it, and his lunch companion, on whose staff some of the outspoken women worked, responded, “You have to understand, Cemal, that they see water as primarily a women's issue, on which they need to speak up for all poor women. In their experience, men are the neighborhood leaders that negotiate with the municipal government for services, and the men want electricity, mostly for television. But the women think water is more essential, because they need water not only for drinking but for cooking, washing children, doing laundry. And when there is no water near, it is the women who must walk far carrying water, often very expensive water. They want to make their needs clear, because they are not sure which is the better option, municipal water or privatized water supply, for getting accessible water that is affordable.”

Cemal, considerably older than his companion, stroked his beard and responded, “Well, I'm not sure that either option will give them both access and affordability, after what we heard this morning. But at any rate, they would make more allies if they had men make their arguments for them.”

“Cemal, Cemal, the world is changing. Even in Muslim nations there are women presidents and prime ministers,” his companion reminded him. “The women on my staff are some of the best workers I have. I expect one of them will replace me when I finish my contract.” Cemal looked skeptical

-121-

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