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The elimination of inequalities is one of SWA’s Guiding Principles, and is also critical for realising the human rights to water and sanitation and all other human rights. Further, the principle of eliminating inequalities or ‘leave no one behind’ is at the core of the SDGs. Understanding that “a focus on averages when setting development goals can mask serious problems” is central to being able to identify those who are being left behind and finding solutions to address these inequalities. SDG 6 will only be met if in 2030 everyone, including all those individuals or groups that are forgotten, marginalised or discriminated against, gain access to safely managed water, hygiene and sanitation services.

The SWA global multi-stakeholder partnership encourages allpartners to collaborate to achieve the SDGs, with a particular focus on leaving no one behind. This must include ensuring that countries prioritise access to basic services for all over improving services for a few. To this end, partners worktogether to identify marginalized populations based on the criteria of access to water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as wealth, and show leadership by developing adequate strategies for these populations. All the dimensions of marginality (availability, accessibility and affordability) aretaken into consideration while designing appropriate policies.

The elimination of inequalities is also incorporated in other SWA activities, such as the High-level Meetings, where Leave No One Behind was the theme of the 2019 Sector Ministers’ Meeting. There are also several commitments tabled by SWA partners under the Mutual Accountability Mechanism with the specific aim of reducing inequalities. The first SWA Briefing Paper focused on Leave No One Behind.

Catarina de Albuquerque, SWA CEO and the former UN Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation talks about what it means to Leave No One Behind

In South Asia, the poorest fifth of the population is 13 times less likely to have access to improved sanitation than the rest.

7 out of 10 people who still lacked even basic services lived in rural areas. One third lived in Least Developed Countries.

People living with chronic illness, including HIV, have increased need for water and sanitation, and often experience discrimination in accessing WASH. In all countries, there are also group-related inequalities, such as those based on ethnic and indigenous identity, race, language, religion, caste, and sexual orientation. These vary in different contexts but are often compounded by discrimination and stigma.

8 out of 10 people still lacking even basic services lived in rural areas. Nearly half lived in Least Developed Countries.

A study of time and water poverty in 25 Sub-Saharan African countries estimated that women spend at least 16 million hours aday collecting drinking water, while men spend 6 million hours, and children 4 million hours on the task.

Indigenous and tribal peoples care for an estimated 22% of the Earth’s surface, and protect nearly 80% of the remaining biodiversity on the planet, while representing only 5% of the world’s population.


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Key documents Type
Briefing Paper: Leaving No One Behind
Speech of Catarina de Albuquerque - Breaking the Silence about Menstrual Hygiene Management
Amina Mohammed

We have growing evidence that greater diversity and inclusion, particular in relation to the inclusion of women, is correlated with higher GDP, more responsive governments, better bottom lines, greater stability, and more sustainable peace and development. But if the business case for inclusion is clear […] our actions fail to reflect this.

UN Deputy Secretary General
Nelson Mandela

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.