Since the dawn of history, faith has provided a foundation from which social norms develop. It is to faith leaders that billions are drawn in times of joy and sorrow, as well as in the search for inner meaning. As teachers to the masses, the words of faith leaders motivate, persuade and enable. Through their speech and actions, they can bring about change in a way unparalleled by others. An estimated 5 billion people around the world are members of religious communities, underscoring the critical role religious leaders can play in addressing seemingly intractable problems – such as access to safe water and sanitation.
The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), of which Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji is Secretary-General, is the world’s first initiative that is engaging the planet’s many faiths as allies in efforts to create a world where every human being has access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and proper hygiene. GIWA was launched by UNICEF at UNICEF Headquarters during the United Nations General Assembly Meetings in New York at an event sponsored by USAID and the Government of the Netherlands.