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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Gender mainstreaming in water and sanitation

"UNICEF aims, through its country programmes, to promote the equal rights of women and girls and to support their full participation in the political, social and economic life of their communities." — UNICEF Mission Statement

What is gender mainstreaming?

Water and sanitation projects ‘mainstream’ gender through two dimensions: the differences in needs and priorities of women, men, girls and boys that arise from their different activities and responsibilities; and the inequalities in access to and control over water resources and access to sanitation services.

© UNICEF/HQ02-0350/Pirozzi
Drawing water from a well constructed with UNICEF support in the village of Manyewa, Zimbabwe.

Gender mainstreaming addresses gender in all cycles of developing, planning, implementing and evaluating a programme. It begins by identifying the gender gaps within the sector, works to eliminate them through programmes and measures effectiveness in terms of gender in the monitoring and evaluation stage.

Gender mainstreaming works to achieve gender balance, such as more equitable task sharing. Achieving gender balance often calls for meeting the practical needs and interests of women and girls more effectively - such as better access to water to reduce their workload - as well as meeting strategic gender needs and interests - such as including women in community decision-making.

The need for gender mainstreaming in WES

People have different needs, interests in, access to and control of resources and services based on a variety of factors including gender. An integrated approach to water and sanitation recognizes these differences and the disparate priorities they create for women and men.

The involvement of women and girls is crucial to effective water and sanitation projects. Women and girls in developing countries bear most of the burden of carrying, using and protecting water. They also have the most responsibility for environmental sanitation and home health.

Given the present roles of women in water and sanitation, their active involvement and empowerment is needed for water and sanitation efforts to be successful – and without further adding to their burden. Gender mainstreaming is needed to achieve gender balance and reduce the inequalities suffered by women and girls.



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