Economic Justice

The Human Right to Water and Common Ownership of the Earth
Mathias Risse. 2014. “The Human Right to Water and Common Ownership of the Earth.” Journal of Political Philosophy, Pp. 178-203. See full text.Abstract

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each human being requires at least 20 liters of clean water for daily consumption and basic hygiene.2 However, many countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East lack sufficient water resources or have so far failed to develop these resources or the necessary infrastructure.

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water,” so W. H. Auden finished his poem “First Things First." And right he was. Only oxygen is needed more urgently than water at most times. But a key difference that makes water a more immediate subject for theorists of justice is that, for now, oxygen is normally amply available where humans live. Historically, the same was true of water since humans would not settle in places without clean water. Nowadays, however, water treatment plants and delivery infrastructure have vastly extended the regions where humans can live permanently. Population increases have prompted people to settle in locations where access to clean water is precarious.

In India, Dying to Go: Why Access to Toilets is a Women’s Rights Issue
Sharmila Murthy. 2014. “In India, Dying to Go: Why Access to Toilets is a Women’s Rights Issue.” WBUR Cognoscenti. See full text.Abstract
Access to clean, safe and private toilets is a women’s issue.

In May, two young women in rural India left their modest homes in the middle of the night to relieve themselves outside. Like millions in India, their homes had no bathrooms. The next morning, their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree. They had been attacked, gang-raped and strung up by their own scarves. Eighteen months after a gang-rape on a Delhi bus, this incident and others since have galvanized nationwide protests to end violence against women and highlighted caste-related discrimination. The tragic story also underscores the need to talk about another taboo topic: open defecation.

Martha Chen

Martha Chen

Lecturer in Public Policy

Martha Chen is a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, an Affiliated Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and International Coordinator of the global research-policy-action network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO).... Read more about Martha Chen

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