Breaking Barriers, Building Futures: How Safe Water Network's Women Drive Change

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. For Safe Water Network, International Women’s Day reinforces a daily commitment we’ve made to not only reduce the physical burden of water collection for women but to also enable economic independence. Our Water Aunties program, for example, helps grassroots women to own and operate water ATMs, transforming their roles in society and ensuring gender equity in decision-making.

According to Poonam Sewak, Vice President of Programs and Partnerships for Safe Water Network India, “As the world sought ways to ease the burden of water collection for women, Safe Water Network was already on the ground, economically empowering them to run and manage water ATMs via our Water Aunties program.”

Pooja Singh, Head of Program Monitoring added, “By engaging women in the Water Aunties program, we enable them to proactively tackle water-related issues, enhance their earning potential, and uphold gender equity in decision-making.”


Meet Mrs. N. Padmaja: Empowering Communities through iJal

Operator at iJal Station, Vennaram, Telangana

Since the inception of Vennaram’s iJal station in 2015, I have proudly managed its daily operations. The iJal team equipped me with skills in plant operation, water quality assessment, customer service, sales, and financial record-keeping. My husband assists in the distribution, delivering water within and beyond our village.

Our efforts also support the local school, providing them with water for sanitation needs. This role has earned me considerable respect from my community, enhancing my sense of purpose and belonging.

The income from the iJal station has been instrumental in funding my son’s education in Hyderabad and in celebrating my daughter’s wedding. Beyond water, we contribute to the village’s dairy sector through a local milk collection point.

My engagement doesn’t end there; I’m deeply involved with the village’s Self-help Group. I educate and support the women in financial management, savings, and banking. Regular meetings under my guidance focus on the critical issues of safe drinking water and conservation strategies.

The impact I’ve made fills me with joy. I’ve become a beacon for other women, often sought after for counsel and deeply respected for my entrepreneurial achievements. Through service and leadership, I am helping to weave a tapestry of empowerment and progress in Vennaram.


“The inclusion of women in our Water Aunties program is essential for promoting gender equality, incorporating diverse viewpoints, and bolstering the program’s community and economic benefits.”

Dr. Shveta Mahajan, Program Manager-Safe Water Network India


Learn more about our Gender Empowerment programs here.