“Water is Life …”

I’m second generation Turkish Cypriot. Water was always revered in our family; we were poor; fizzy sugary drinks were a luxury we couldn’t afford. We drank water with our meals.

It was some years before I was able to visit the homeland of my parents. It was there however that the importance of water really showed itself, and I began to look at this most precious commodity in a very different light. I had grown up in London, England.

Water was frequently to be seen falling out of the sky with no sign of let up. I thought my parents were being over the top when they spoke about how precious water is.

It was only after traveling to Cyprus as a teenager and realizing that the water to the village of my grandparents would stop flowing at noon that I really started to think seriously about the plight of others, and the struggle for water.

The Purpose of Stopcocks

It was only a matter of time until I returned to my passion of water and the management of it.

After some years teaching I was eventually and inexorably pulled towards what I ‘just had to do’. I gave up my comparatively lucrative career and threw myself into college again to retrain as a plumber.

It is now 22 years later and I feel I am ready to go out into the world and fulfil my greatest passion and dream of global water management.

There is no shortage of water on this planet. There is enough rain falling to quench the thirst of every living being and plant. The technology to make this happen is there. The money is there.

What is required is joined up thinking, political will and plumbers.

The reason for Stopcocks Women Plumbers is to effect change.

After hearing of drought and flood in Ethiopia in the space of a few weeks, my path became clear. This cannot be allowed to continue.

Year on year we hear stories of millions of lives being lost to massive flooding in Bangladesh.

Even the mighty USA has suffered under poor water management. For the rich nations, there is no more room for complacency.

Change can be achieved

There are many wonderful and valuable projects all over the world.

In Kenya, the Masai women have begun building rainwater collection tanks.

As a result of collecting the rain, not only have they managed to reduce the numbers of people contracting illnesses such as malaria, they have simultaneously raised their own profile and gained respect from the men folk. The view of women which has traditionally been that of subordinate is changing for the good of the villages and the people.

A similar story can be seen in the region of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. Again the lowly position of women is being challenged and changed by the women themselves.

In my own experience, it was difficult to get a foothold in the trade. We may believe that sexism is a thing of the past in the UK, but my attempts to gain employment in 1990 were not looked upon favourably by the fraternity of plumbers.

I was discouraged and told “its heavy work you know?” and “you’ll get dirty”. (!!!!)

Even when I decided to start my own business I had to deal with sexism in the plumbers’ merchants. “Who’s going to fit this for you love?” was common.

Now, I’m thick skinned and don’t get deterred easily. I took most of this in my stride and carried on building my business into what it is today. I have a full diary, I have a referral rate in excess of 80% and I am now building the only National Network of Self employed Women Plumbers in the world.

My dream in the UK is to enable any young woman wishing to be a plumber to be one. There are ample opportunities within Stopcocks, for qualified, as well as training plumbers. Women will not have to struggle alone any more.

Women have made fantastic inroads in business and corporations and we have all benefited from that. The building trade however is probably one of the last few remaining bastions of male domination. Stopcocks Women Plumbers prove that women can be plumbers and women simultaneously.

My pledge to the world

I will build up a work force of women plumbers that will travel to the places where global water management is an issue

We will begin something we can pass on to society.

Something we can leave as a legacy for our children, and something that gives the world a chance for life.

We will carry out crucial work and begin the long, long process of aiding the carriage of clean water for all.

Water is life – a basic human right that has been denied for too many too long.