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Photo: Scott Harrison / charity

From: Sanitation – Footsteps 73

How to promote and support safe sanitation for all

When considering sanitation and hygiene, it is important to consider the different needs and preferences of both men and women.

Women in particular are affected by a lack of adequate latrines.


Photo: Sarah Dodd, Tearfund

Photo: Sarah Dodd, Tearfund

It is necessary for both women and men to practise good hygiene, such as washing hands after defecating. Yet in places where hygiene is seen only as keeping the cooking area clean, it will be seen as a woman’s issue.

Gender analysis is vital in any work to improve sanitation and hygiene. Here are some questions that could be asked in such an analysis.

Appropriate responses might include:

Indicators for gender-sensitive sanitation and hygiene work include: 

Women and menstruation

People usually find it embarrassing to talk about menstruation, but methods of sanitary protection are important. Questions to ask include:

It is important that cloths are changed regularly, washed thoroughly and dried in the sun to stop them getting mouldy. Women are often embarrassed about washing and hanging their cloths in public areas. Encourage the community to put aside a separate washing and drying area that women can use without embarrassment.

It is important to challenge beliefs that menstrual blood is impure or contaminating. Menstruation is natural and normal.

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