In many developing countries, women and girls primarily bear the responsibility for household water supply and childcare, 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.
Before the installation of the water facility, fetching water took a lot of my time, especially during the early hours of the morning which could have been used for other productive activities. Currently I am able to devote more time to assist my children in getting ready for school.
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. Every single project and activity WSUP has been involved with in Africa and Asia relies on the direct participation and deep involvement of women.
Women leadership in WASH
If utilities are to become financially sustainable, profitable and attractive to investors, women should be taking up key technical and decision making roles. WSUP has researched the attitudes of decision-makers in the sanitation sector in Kenya and the barriers to such roles for women. Read our findings in our Gender representation and Women working in sanitation in Kenya policy briefs.
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. In Madagascar, we have been working closely with Dubai cares to improve WASH facilities and practices in schools in two of Madagascar’s largest cities, Antananarivo and Mahajanga.
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. Examples of this are our work in Maputo, Mozambique, which was awarded the Inclusion Award from AfricaSan for its gender-sensitive approach and our new laundry block in Soalandy, Madagascar, built through the Water & Development Alliance (WADA), USAID, The Coca-Cola Foundation.