Women leading for water

Yanine Gutierrez is young. And a woman. But she was determined that nothing – least of all her age or gender – would stand in the way of her work in an often male-dominated field.

27-year-old Yanine became the first woman director of the district water and sanitation office in San Pedro, Bolivia. With quiet authority and confidence, she shares how Everyone in her district – every family, clinic, and school – got access to water.

San Pedro is the first district globally where Water For People works that has reached Everyone with reliable water service – 16,290 people throughout the district.

The San Pedro water and sanitation office played a key role in accomplishing this huge milestone, but it didn’t happen without challenges.

“At the beginning, it was difficult,” Yanine says. “But I am really happy with how far we’ve come.”

She got her start as a social technician in this office in 2013. Yanine was promised the director position, but when it was given to someone else she left for a new job. A year later, the district came back to her – this time, with the director job offer in hand.

Yanine said she takes her job very seriously – she knows how critical safe water and sanitation services are to the health and future of everyone in the district of San Pedro. While she’s pleased with reaching universal access, to her, reaching Everyone isn’t enough. She wants San Pedro to focus on sustainability, so that water services are around Forever.

To achieve this, there is still a running list of items on the San Pedro team’s to-do list: micrometers for three communities, better water tanks for another three communities, and bylaws and regulations for water committees. They also have a plan to improve sanitation services throughout the district.

The high standards and work ethic Yanine holds to will undoubtedly accomplish all of this for San Pedro. The work she and her team have already done has forever changed the life of Everyone who can now count on water whenever they need it.

The accomplishments in San Pedro are already having a ripple effect throughout Bolivia – leading to safe water services for countless more districts across the country. Yanine was even able to share San Pedro’s successes on the world stage at the International Water & Development Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, hoping to inspire more change globally.

This momentum all started in a small district with unlikely – but powerful – local leaders like Yanine.

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