Water+ and Gender Transformation

Water+ and Gender Transformation

Water+ affects girls and women differently depending on their community, their culture and their life-stage. Girls who have not started menstruating experience water, sanitation and hygiene differently than those who have to manage their period each month, or raise a young infant, a child, or are elderly. A series of studies, conducted by CARE (in collaboration with Masters students from Emory University), looked at relationships between women and WASH in Mozambique in 2013 and 2014.

Findings from studies: In Mozambique women in some communities reported increased feelings of safety and decreased domestic conflict at home due to household latrines and closer water points. Women reported that their daughters attended school more regularly when water points were functioning. Women described that they still needed to walk long distances to collect firewood or tend to fields – so new feelings of safety were only applicable in some instances.

Importantly, women from communities with functional water points were significantly more likely (p<0.05) to report increased household production, increased control over household resources and improved relations with their spouse. Women in communities with functional water points were also more likely to feel empowered.

As a result of improved WASH facilities, women reported that they now had more free time for income-generating activities or adult education. Participation and leadership of women on the water committees was seen as beneficial in raising their voices and increase confidence – however this was mostly applicable only to women on the water committees themselves.


Conclusions on water+ and gender transformation

Working with communities should involve women, men, boys, girls, traditional, religious and local government leaders. Interventions should not further exacerbate gendered roles such as female water collection, or females building or cleaning latrines. Women participating on water committees (for example) is needed – but women having the voice, freedom and encouragement to actually participate is required for there to be a positive impact.

Water+ interventions should improve women’s rights, increase confidence and dialogue, give girls and boys more opportunities to attend school. Water+ interventions should work between integration into existing financial, cultural and government systems, and challenge existing systems that may take power, voice, movement, independence and rights from women, girls and other disadvantaged, devalued or vulnerable people. Male champions, Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLAs), women’s groups, Social Analysis and Action groups which discuss social norms are all some of the ways CARE works to transform thoughts about gender and equity.


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