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Study finds Utah indigenous women lack clean water and internet access

Indigenous women and girls stand in traditional clothing in the Utah State Capitol Building.
Steve Griffin
Deseret News
Findings from the research snapshot reveal indigenous women within the state have a lack of access to basic necessities. 27.3% of indigenous women report no access to water and 23.8% report no access to internet at home

A new research snapshot released by the Utah Women & Leadership Project revealed the economic, health-related and overall wellness status of Indigenous women in Utah.

The Utah Women & Leadership project released a new research snapshot on May 18 centering around the status of American Indian women in Utah.

Susan Madsen, Director of the Utah Women & Leadership project, said she and her team not only want to do this research to study diversity and inclusivity throughout the state, but to advocate for more to be done to help indigenous women feel empowered and heard.

“What we want to do is do more research, and try to get the state of Utah and any organization to start collecting more gender and race/ethnicity data," Madsen said."We found there wasn’t very much! How can we help and really have better interventions, programs, and initiatives if we don’t know more?"

Findings of this study conclude that Utah American Indian women are more likely to be in married-couple families and have lower divorce rates, compared to Native American women nationally. Also, American Indian women are less likely to attain a Bachelor’s degree and are more likely to end their education without a high school diploma.

Madsen said the most shocking piece of research she and her team found revolved around the lack of basic necessities American Indian women have access to. 27.3% of indigenous women report no access to water and 23.8% report no access to internet at home.

“These days we think everybody has access to water, but actually for all Utah women, about 10% don’t have access to regularly clean water, but over a quarter of Utah American Indians do not have access to regularly clean water … and in today’s society, that is extremely shocking to me,” Madsen said.

Madsen said indigenous women participants from their community conversations study, vocally expressed they want more mentoring programs for children in school about future careers and post-secondary education, and more outreach programs to improve awareness of resources or a lack there-of within their communities.

Sydney Lasike graduated from Dixie State University, in St. George, Utah, in 3 years with a bachelors degree in Media Studies (Multimedia Journalism Emphasis). There, she competed as a student-athlete on the women’s volleyball team, and was the Features Editor of the school newspaper, Dixie Sun News. She was awarded the 2021 Media Studies Student of the Year Award, and graduated with Latin Honors - Magna Cum Laude.