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October - SWA Gender month

Sanitation and Water for All Secretariat
09 Oct 2019

The realization of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation is essential for achieving gender equality, sustainable development and poverty alleviation. It also empowers women and addresses the root causes of poverty and gender inequality. However, these rights can only be realized when, not only men, but equally women and girls actively and meaningfully participate in legislative and policy developments and their implementation.

As we address this month's theme, listen to SWA CEO, Catarina de Albuquerque, video message:

(Version française)

This month, we will focus on gender and access to water, sanitation and hygiene, which is central to what our partnership does as this is critically to ensuring that we eliminate inequalities.

Throughout October, we will shine a light on how women and girls’ lives are particularly at risk of violations of their human rights to water and sanitation, and are vastly improved by better access to water and sanitation. Women and girls can make a positive impact to the sector if they are able to participate in a meaningful manner in decisions on their access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

But how?

In the majority of countries and cultures, women manage water usage in the home, they invest time in collecting water, they manage family cooking, cleaning and hygiene practices. Where water is not available within the home, women and girls will lose considerable time collecting it, losing opportunities to work or attend school.

Menstrual needs make extra demands on women and girls, both physically, requiring access to sanitation and to menstrual products at school and in the workplace, as well as emotionally and socially due to the stigma associated with menstruation.

When women and girls don’t have proper access to toilets in the home, they are more vulnerable to abuse and attacks, particularly when they have to wait until dark to relieve themselves at public toilets nearby or in the open.

Investing in water, sanitation and hygiene therefore empowers women and girls and allowing them to live a full and dignified life in society!

As I said before, no WASH planning, budgeting, or any WASH intervention can be successful without the active and meaningful participation of women and girls, as planning without the involvement of women and girls will not ensure the best solutions to the most entrenched social problems.

At the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, considerations of gender and non-discrimination are cross-cutting principles that permeate everything we do: from the way governments develop national sanitation plans, to the subjects that we prioritise at our high-level meetings, to the people that we invite to speak on panel discussions. The voices of women and girls are critical to everything that we do.

SWA partners believe that no initiative in water, sanitation and hygiene can be successful without the involvement of women and girls.

This involvement:

  1. reduces the burden of unpaid work on women and girls,
  2. facilitates participation in decision-making, education, employment and social activities and .
  3. contributes to reducing sexual and gender-based violence.

Investing in water, sanitation and hygiene is SIMPLY realizing the human rights of every woman and girl!

This month we’ll publish stories from SWA partners on how they are tackling these issues around the world.

So, stay tuned to our channels, follow us of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to hear about the joint work our partners are doing to improve a fairer access to water, sanitation and hygiene, no matter your sex or gender.