Indonesian Muslim Women Unite for Availability of Water, Sanitation and Environmental Health

JAKARTA (February 18, 2015): Twenty nine (29) Muslim women’s organizations from all around Indonesia today launched a new network dedicated to bringing clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene education to everyone.

The network is titled Indonesian Women for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, or IWWASH. “IWWASH was formed to link Indonesian Muslim women, so that together we can lead the drive to bring clean water, adequate toilets and water education into all communities, based on the teachings of Islam about sharing and about water,” said Dr Husmiaty Hasyim, Chairwomen of Headquarter Persatuan Ummat Islam (PUI), in representing the network.

It is an initiative by the Universitas Nasional (UNAS) supported by the international Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) based in the UK and the Dutch philanthropic fund, Valley Foundation.

“Indonesia is a big country with the largest Muslim population in the world,” said conservationist Dr. Fachruddin Mangunjaya Vice Chairman UNAS Centre for Islamic Studies who has been supporting the initiative from the beginning through ARC and the Universitas Nasional. “Indonesia an important role in the frontline to show how life can be better; and to save lives through clean water.”

Like most countries around the world, Indonesia is facing extreme challenges of development, and both secular and Muslim leaders have emphasized the importance of empowering people in managing the huge problem of clean water, sanitation and environmental health.

This initiative is stronger because it goes through Islamic teachings and practice: the Qu’ran is very explicit about the importance, and beauty, of clean water.

The initiative has caught the imagination of many groups already. In September, 16 women’s organizations committed to establishing this network, but by the time of the launch today, two months later, there were 29.

The announcement of this network was officially launched by Minister of Health, Prof. Dr. Nila. F. Moeloek that was represented by Director of Environmental Health, drh. Wilfried Purba, and Deputy Secretary General, Indonesian Ulema Council, Prof. Dr. Amany Lubis (Wednesday, 02/18 ) in Jakarta.

IWWASH- an new hope in bringing Muslim women leaders network will be empowered through new friendships and alliances.

In her speech, Minister of Health said that IWWASH networks in line with preventive promotive program of national target according to the National Medium Term Development Plan ( RPJMN ) 2015-2019 , namely Universal Access Water and Sanitation 2019 through the provision of access to drinking water and sanitation 100 % for all Indonesian people.

Ministry of Health also open a seminar titled “Water, Sanitation and Environmental Health in the Islamic Perspective.”

National and international figures were present, including Dr. Didin Hafidhuddin, chairman of BAZNAS, a government-supported charitable organisation that collects zakat from Muslims to help the needy and small business owners across Indonesia. Zakat means “grow in goodness” and Muslims consider the act giving zakat as a way of giving thanks to God for any material well-being you have acquired.

Also present at the launch was Dr Husna Ahmad from the UK, representing ARC. Dr Ahmad has worked on innovative Muslim women and water programmes around the world. She talked about her experience in water, sanitation and hygiene innovation in several other countries, including Bangladesh.
“We want to help establish an ethos hospitality in sharing water and hygiene knowledge,” said Professor Ernawati Sinaga, Vice Rector for Research, Community Service and Collaboration Universitas Nasional, who was also one of the key initiators of the symposium and network.
“These initiatives are happening anyway, but we hope that by bringing them together in a network, these Muslim women leaders will be empowered through new friendships and alliances – and knowing they are not alone – to do even more.”

“Hopefully, through this network, there will be a synergy and spirit of Muslim women to move in the field of public education and cultivation of Islamic values, especially in water conservation, sanitation and environmental health.

“Islam teaches good environmental care,” Professor Sinaga added.