Laura Kowalski, Sustainability Program Manager at Ecolab, based in Illinois, USA, speaks to us about Water Stewardship means to her on International Women’s Day 2021.
How would you describe your role to someone who may be unfamiliar with your area of work?
I help enable our manufacturing plants to meet our public goals around water reduction, water stewardship, and carbon reduction.
What drew you to working in water in particular?
Water is a shared resource; we all need it to live. It’s at the foundation of everything – our food, our energy, our industries, our lives. It’s exciting to be able to do work in such a meaningful field. I also love that we are always learning more and building. We have to continuously learn to adapt to new situations and we can really see the impact of our work.
What does Water Stewardship mean to you?
Water stewardship means managing a shared resource to the fullest, in the most responsible way from an environmental, social, and economic perspective. Being efficient but also respectful of others needs as it relates to water.
What stage would you say you are at in your Water Stewardship journey?
Ecolab was a founding member of AWS and had the first ever certified plant in Tai Cang, China. We continue to lead and advocate for global water stewardship not only in our manufacturing plants but with our customers, as well.
How have you found working with The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS)/ AWS Standard?
AWS has allowed us to open up a conversation with our plants to look outside of the four walls of our site into the local community in which we operate.
What achievement are you most proud of when it comes to water?
In 2018 I gave a TED talk called “Water Scarcity is Sexist”. This talk discussed water scarcity in Africa and how the burden of water and collection of water is placed on women.
While women are out fetching water, their male counterparts are gaining an education or seeking other life skills that they can be compensated for. They’re learning to become active members in their communities, not just in their households.
Development of water infrastructure requires the input of the people most affected by water issues in the region – women. Yet women are often pushed out of community planning or political conversations because it isn’t seen as their place.
Giving women a seat at the table allows economies to develop in ways that will let them function properly!
Watch Laura’s TED Talk here.