Dubé addresses water crisis

The world's water supply continues to dwindle as demand and availability falls to crisis levels. What is it about the uniqueness of women that places them in a special role to address the water crises?

Dr. Monique Dubé, a Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Ecosystem Health Diagnosis at the University of Saskatchewan and a Manager and Principle Scientist in the Water Sciences Division at the Saskatchewan Research Council, addresses that question today. Dubé speaks in the latest offering of the Women Scholars Speaker Series, noon to 2 p.m. in the Students' Union Ballroom A.

We understand that water is essential for all dimensions of life. We also understand that over the past few decades, use of water has increased, and in many places water availability is falling to crisis levels. More than 80 countries, with 40 per cent of the world's population, are already facing water shortages, while by the year 2020 the world's population will double.

The costs of water infrastructure have risen dramatically. Over one billion people lack safe water, and three billion also lack sanitation. As 80 per cent of infectious diseases are waterborne millions of children die and are infected each year (World Bank Institute, WATER 1999). There is no question we face an existing and worsening dilemma and the call for assistance speaks to us.

So the question is what is it about the uniqueness of women that places them in a special role to address the water crises? It is reported that structure and functioning of women's brains are different than their male counterparts. Of course there are always exceptions. Generally though, women's brains tend to have greater connectivity, plasticity, and the ability to think about multiple things at one time. Women in general show preferences to think in a more integrated manner. They also tend to discuss and consider all sides of an issue so as to reach consensus. These skills place women in a very unique, albeit challenging role to address the water crisis.

Dubé's passion is to bring "science to service" with a focus on assessing and managing the cumulative effects of multiple stressors affecting Canadian waters. Dr. Dubé has 20 years experience in aquatic ecotoxicology in academia, government, and in the private consulting sector.