Water Currents: Gender and WASH

Water Currents is produced biweekly by USAID’s E3 Water Office. Each issue contains recent news and articles on water sector issues, partner and donor updates, latest sector research, and a special focus on one topic. Please provide your feedback and suggestions by contacting the waterteam@usaid.gov.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by lack of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services. Their needs differ from men in terms of sanitation, they spend more of their time collecting water, yet they have less say about household and community decisions made on WASH services. Similarly, women throughout the developing world face different barriers than men in terms of their involvement in WASH-related professions, such as utility management.

This issue on gender and WASH focuses on a new batch of reports, journal articles, and podcasts and provides links to relevant websites and news articles that consider gender issues in the WASH sector and gender-related aspects of agricultural water management.
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Water Currents - In Focus

Water and Gender

The Rising Tide: A New Look at Water and GenderThe World Bank, August 2017. Water-related societal roles often reflect, and even reinforce, gender inequality. This report discusses the consequences of some water initiatives—intended and unintended—for gender equality. It makes the important point that gender inequality does not always show up where we might expect.
Gender-Responsive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: Key Elements for Effective WASH ProgrammingUNICEF, March 2017. Effective gender-responsive programming in the WASH sector can contribute to gender equality while yielding important WASH results. This document outlines essential elements that WASH practitioners should take into account to enhance a gender-responsive approach to their work.
Gender Equality and Disability Inclusion within Water, Sanitation and HygieneWaterAid, March 2017. This discussion paper is based on WaterAid’s experiences in applying integrated gender and disability support to rights-based WASH programs in Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.
Gender Equality & Goal 6: The Critical ConnectionAustralian Water Partnership, 2017. Water governance and WASH issues affect gender-discriminated people differently, and these differences need to be identified and understood at all stages of the management of WASH and water resources.
Gender and Social Inclusion in Local Water Planning: Lessons from Water Use Master Plan Practices in NepalInternational Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, August 2017. Nepal is experiencing an increase in long-term male migration for remittance-based foreign employment. Overall household responsibilities—including those that are water-related—have fallen on women’s shoulders. Gender concerns in water sector development have hence become more important than ever.
India: Viewing National Water Policies through a Gendered LensEconomic and Political Weekly, December 2017. Despite the international recognition accorded to the key role women play in water-related issues, India needs to better accommodate gender concerns in its national water policies.
Conceptualizing a Hybrid Framework to Help Improve Gender Outcomes in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programs in IndiawH2O: The Journal of Gender and Water, October 2017. A gender-sensitive approach to ensure equity in WASH programs can achieve positive and sustainable outcomes, including participatory decisionmaking and empowerment of women. This paper outlines a hybrid gender analysis framework that combines the strengths of the seven previously established frameworks for optimizing gender outcomes.
Using Spatial Video to Analyze and Map the Water-Fetching Path in Challenging Environments: A Case Study of Dar es Salaam, TanzaniaTropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, April 2017. Spatial video is a useful tool for visualizing and analyzing the challenges of water collection. This paper demonstrates how spatial video can be used to quantify aspects of the walk to water.
Who Carries the Weight of Water? Fetching Water in Rural and Urban Areas and the Implications for Water SecurityWater Alternatives, June 2017. Water fetching continues to have the greatest impact on women and children in poorer rural areas and is likely to be a substantial barrier to household water security. This article presents a synthesis of the data on water fetching from households in 23 countries.
Women’s NGOs Are Changing the World but Not Getting Credit for ItThe Wire, July 2017. Researchers learned that women’s NGOs have made vital contributions to the success of WASH and other development projects, but they were easily marginalized and trivialized once those projects got off the ground.

Women’s Empowerment and the Continuing Impact of the Water and Development Alliance in NigeriaGlobalwaters.org, November 2017. In Nigeria, Salamatu Garba created the Women Farmers Alliance Network, which seeks to improve the quality of life for Nigeria’s rural women and to empower communities with improved water and sanitation management.

Sanitation and Gender

Assessing Women’s Negative Sanitation Experiences and Concerns: The Development of a Novel Sanitation Insecurity MeasureInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, July 2017. Using research conducted in rural Odisha, India, the authors of this study developed a measure to evaluate how sanitation insecurity affects health and to determine if and how interventions address women’s concerns and negative experiences associated with sanitation.
WASH Talk Podcast on Gender Equality in Rural SanitationIRC, November 2017. In this podcast Gabrielle Halcrow of SNV Asia discusses the delivery of gender-positive WASH programs and how female-headed households face the most challenges in rural sanitation programs.
Gender, Women and SanitationGlobal Water Pathogen Project, September 2017. The main objectives of this report are to explain the nexus among gender, women, and sanitation and to give ideas on how to integrate a gender perspective in the sanitation sector.
Women's Role in Sanitation Decision Making in Rural Coastal Odisha, IndiaPLoS One, May 2017. A cross-sectional survey among 475 randomly selected rural households revealed that decisions on the construction of household-level sanitation facilities were made exclusively by the male head in 80 percent of households. Qualitative research revealed that women’s non-involvement in sanitation decisionmaking reflects a broader inability to influence the household’s financial decisions.

Out of Order: The State of the World's Toilets 2017WaterAid, November 2017. This report explores how the lack of decent toilets around the world prevents women and girls from fulfilling their potential. Millions still suffer the fear and indignity of relieving themselves in the open or in unsafe or unhygienic toilets—a situation that is most dangerous for girls and women.

These Women Have Broken All Stereotypes to Improve Sanitation in Rural IndiaBusiness Insider, November 2017. This article describes the efforts of several women to improve sanitation and end open defecation in their neighborhoods and villages.

Menstrual Hygiene

From Menarche to Menopause: A Population-Based Assessment of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Risk Factors for Reproductive Tract Infection Symptoms Over Life Stages in Rural Girls and Women in IndiaPLoS One, December 2017. Women face greater challenges than men in accessing WASH resources to address their daily needs and may respond to these challenges by adopting unsafe practices that increase the risk of reproductive tract infections.
Understanding Menstrual Hygiene Management & Human RightsHuman Rights Watch, 2017. Women and girls the world over face numerous challenges in managing their menstruation. This document discusses how the biological fact of menstruation, the necessity of managing menstruation, and society’s response to both is linked with women’s and girls’ human rights and gender equality.

The Period Movement: Meet the Men Fighting to Stop Menstruation-Shaming in the Developing WorldNewsweek, July 2017. This article describes the efforts of men in Kenya and other countries to change harmful beliefs and superstitions about menstruation.
‘We Do Not Know’: A Qualitative Study Exploring Boys Perceptions of Menstruation in IndiaBMC Reproductive Health, December 2017. Researchers found that boys can become advocates for menstrual hygiene management (MHM) despite societal norms for them to remain ignorant of MHM issues.
Understanding and Defining Sanitation Insecurity: Women’s Gendered Experiences of Urination, Defecation and Menstruation in Rural Odisha, IndiaBMJ Global Health, September 2017. Sanitation global policy and practice typically focuses on defecation, while neglecting women’s urination and menstruation-related needs. Sanitation programs should better address the social norms that make women’s sanitation needs secondary to other household obligations.

Agricultural Water Management and Gender

Improving Gender Equity in Irrigation: Application of a Tool to Promote Learning and Performance in Malawi and UzbekistanCGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems, July 2017. This paper provides a brief synthesis of research conducted on gender equality in irrigation, and the tools and frameworks used in the past to promote improvement for women in on-farm agricultural water management.
Addressing Women’s Burdens from Water Risks Could Help Reduce World HungerWorld Resources Institute, August 2017. This study explains how women—if they had the same access as men to resources like land, water, and extension services—could increase agricultural yields by 20 percent to 30 percent and pull 100-150 million people out of hunger.
Gender and Water Technologies: Water Lifting for Irrigation and Multiple Purposes in EthiopiaInternational Water Management Institute, February 2017. This report outlines the results of a study on gender and individual irrigation technologies in Ethiopia. The study is based on a survey of 79 farmers (38 men and 41 women) and explores the gender dynamics of water-lifting technologies (rope and washer pump, tractor and drip, and solar pumps).

Cattle as Technological Interventions: The Gender Effects of Water Demand in Dairy Production in UgandaFacets, July 2017. Both men and women identify fetching water as one of the greatest challenges in maintaining dairy cows, but women and children disproportionately fetch the water, using up valuable time in the process.

Websites, Journals, and Reference Resources

wH2O: The Journal of Gender and Water – wH2O is an online, open-access, peer-reviewed academic journal for gender and water around the world. The latest issue has articles on: Arsenic Poisoning in Rural Bangladesh, Empowering Women in the WASH Sector, and Caloric Expenditure as an Indicator of Access to Water.
Globalwaters.org – Globalwaters.org is supported by the USAID Water Office, with the aim of fostering global knowledge and collaboration for sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene access for all, and providing water practitioners with the latest news, learnings, and resources from USAID and its partners. A keyword search on gender retrieves gender-related publications, podcasts, and other resources.
FAO AQUASTAT: Water and Gender – AQUASTAT is the global water information system for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This section on water and gender contains statistics, reports, and case studies on the role of women in agricultural water management.
Gender and Water Alliance (GWA) – The mission of GWA is to promote women’s and men’s equitable access to and management of safe and adequate water, for domestic supply, sanitation, food security, and environmental sustainability.
Global Water Partnership (GWP) Gender – Gender is one of GWP’s main programmatic themes. Its Gender Strategy addresses diversity and inclusion, social equity, and the role of women in the integrated and sustainable management of water resources.
UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) – Water and Gender – WWAP is committed to advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality in the water realm. The site features a Gender and Water Toolkit, information on WWAP training programs, and key indicators on gender and WASH.

Women for Water Partnership (WfWP)  – WfWP is a partnership of women’s organizations and networks in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, and Western Europe, reaching over one million women.


Water Currents - In the News

USAID Announces New Project in Support of Safe Water and Sanitation for HaitiU.S. Embassy in Haiti, December 2017. This project will focus on increasing access to improved water and sanitation services in priority cholera “hotspot” communes identified in Haiti’s National Mid-Term Plan for the Elimination of Cholera, and in communes recovering from natural disasters such as Hurricane Matthew. It will also engage the private sector in creating solutions for expanding access to water and sanitation services.
USAID Supports International Collaboration for Sustainable Water and Land Resources Management in Central AsiaAKIpress, December 2017. USAID and the Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of Uzbekistan recently convened a three-day international workshop on “Innovations in Marginal Water Resource for Resilient Agriculture and Food Security.”
Q&A: Mark Green on Why He'll Champion Innovative Finance at USAIDDevex, December 2017. A new development impact bond (DIB) aims to save the lives of mothers and newborns in India over five years. When USAID Administrator Mark Green announced the DIB at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, he noted the potential for impact was not only on maternal and child health, but also on USAID’s approach to development.

If you would like to feature your organization's materials or suggest other content for upcoming issues of Water Currents, please send them to Dan Campbell, Knowledge Creation/WASH Specialist, at dcampbell@waterckm.com.


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