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.

Watch the video to see how WSUP’s work in Bangladesh, alongside Dubai Cares, has supported teenage girls going to school.

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.

Elizabeth Konadu
Elizabeth Konadu, Community MemberAsamang, Ghana

Improving awareness about menstrual hygiene

Lack of hygienic and female-friendly toilets makes it hard for women and girls to manage their menstrual hygiene needs. In countries such as Bangladesh and Ghana, we give information to women and girls and improve toilets facilities, so they can manage their hygiene in private, clean, and safe environments. In Madagascar, we improved WASH facilities and practices in schools from Antananarivo and Mahajanga.

May 2023: WSUP actions improve menstrual hygiene in Bangladesh and Ghana

October 2021: Our future is at hand: strengthening WASH services in Madgascan shools


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.

March 2022: Women spread the message: story of a communications leader in Kenya

January 2022: Faustina Boache on the benefits of serving low-income customers


Faustina Boachie, Ghana Water Company

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.

March 2022: Women spread the message: story of a communications leader in Kenya

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), USAIDThe Coca-Cola Foundation.

March 2021: A new laundry block in Soalandy is brings enormous value.