In many developing countries, women and girls primarily bear the responsibility for household water supply and child care, and are the most affected by poor sanitation in urban areas.
The time spent collecting water represents a major barrier to female economic gain and empowerment, as it reduces time available for income-generating activities and school attendance.
The lack of hygienic, gender-friendly toilets in urban communities and schools makes it hard for women and girls to manage their menstrual hygiene needs, forcing girls to miss school during menstruation or to drop out altogether.
In addition, using public toilets also makes them vulnerable to harassment or violence, increasing the risk of assault.
We need to do more to ensure all water and sanitation facilities are gender-inclusive and that women are included at all stages of the decision-making processes.
We wanted to make our ward clean. We helped in the construction of toilets, and we constructed rallies in the ward to raise public awareness about using the toilets.
Gender representation in Kenyan sanitation institutions
Gender inequity at the level of policy, regulation and management can perpetuate inequities throughout the sanitation sector, limiting the voice and participation of women decision-makers. WSUP has been mapping the attitudes of decision-makers in the sanitation sector in Kenya and the barriers to these roles for women.
Providing gender-sensitive water and sanitation infrastructure
We take a gender sensitive approach towards the provision of water and sanitation infrastructure and services, taking into account the specific needs of women and girls. An example of this is our work in Maputo, Mozambique, which was awarded the Inclusion Award from AfricaSan for its gender-sensitive approach.
Promoting gender transformative approaches
WSUP encourages women’s participation and leadership in service providers and community groups, building their capacity to influence key decisions within their community. Our work improves women’s access to economic opportunities, through their involvement in operation and management of facilities.
Supporting service providers to develop gender inclusive policies and services
Real progress towards gender-inclusive water, sanitation, and hygiene will not be possible without political will and clear commitment from service providers to institutionalise the principles of gender equity. In Kenya, we have supported the Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC) in devising a gender and disability strategy which incorporates both customer-facing and internal components.
Taking action to improve menstrual hygiene education in schools
Lack of hygienic and female-friendly toilets makes it hard for women and girls to manage their menstrual hygiene needs, forcing them to miss school. We support schools to deliver effective menstrual hygiene education so girls can feel comfortable and confident at school during their period.