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Equity on gender and for the poor

Published on: 25/02/2013

Successful sanitation programmes depend on equitable participation of women and men.

Successful sanitation programmes depend on equitable participation of women and men. For example, in many cultures women have a higher demand for toilets than men, while men decide on the larger household investments. Women have been effectively involved as toilet promoters and providers and in monitoring hygienic use. At the same time, sanitation and hygiene promotion has to involve men to raise their demand and change their practices. "Cinderella and the missing slipper" addresses the secondary position of sanitation (‘Cinderella’) to water improvements and the absence of a gender focus (‘the missing slipper’).

A gender focus is one of the topics addressed in the TOP (Thematic Overview Paper) on hygiene promotion and in the chapter on hygiene in the Technical Paper "Gender in water resources management, water supply and sanitation: roles and realities revisited". A case study is included in a World Bank series of innovative activity profiles. At country level equity on gender and for the poor is integrated into Indonesia’s programme for the acceleration of urban sanitation. Material in English available includes a factsheet on gender mainstreaming in city sanitation strategy development and a summary paper on the applied strategy.

Poor-specific access data

In 1978 ("Participation and education in community water supply and sanitation programmes", revised 2nd edition in 1981)) it was already documented that access to toilets increases with socio-economic status. For good governance and programme management it is therefore important to break up data on sanitation access into access for the local poor and not-so-poor. Only then is it possible to see who benefits from the programmes and to monitor if the gap is being closed.

Also in decentralised, community-managed programmes, monitoring of sanitation access in districts, provinces, states and nations usually remains a government responsibility The decision to monitor sanitation and hygiene poverty-specific is therefore one of the indicators of good governance. In some countries, e.g. India, monitoring sanitation is segregated into access for households above and below the poverty line. In others, e.g. Vietnam, segregated monitoring was done only during externally supported projects, and abandoned when the donor left, although the partners did otherwise continue the successful sanitation marketing approach. If sanitation access is monitored for the poor and non-poor, experiences in Flores, Java, Kerala and South Asia show that there are considerable advantages in using, when possible, local poverty indicators rather than national ones.

Background information and materials referred to in the article:
  • Sanitation and hygiene promotion has to involve men to raise their demand and change their practices (download below).
  • A gender focus is one of the topics addressed in the TOP (Thematic Overview Paper) on hygiene promotion.
  • Gender in water resources management, water supply and sanitation : roles and realities revisited (a Technical Paper) also has a gender focus in its hygiene chapter.
  • a factsheet on gender mainstreaming in city sanitation strategy development.
  • a summary paper on the applied strategy.
  • A case study (on Kerala, India) is included in a World Bank series of innovative activity profiles.
  • In 1978 (Participation and education in community water supply and sanitation programmes, revised 2nd edition in 1981) it was already documented that access to toilets increases with socio-economic status.
  • In Vietnam, segregated monitoring was done only during externally supported projects, and abandoned when the donor left.
  • If sanitation access is monitored for the poor and non-poor, experiences in Flores, Java, Kerala and South Asia show that there are considerable advantages in using, when possible, local poverty indicators.