Gender and WASH

Addressing the needs of women and girls in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene is key to achieving gender equality 

Globally, women and girls are still the primary water collectors in their household. They are still the main carers when children or others get sick with diarrhoeal diseases. Day after day, they secure water that is essential for food security and livelihoods. 

Yet despite these responsibilities, unequal access to water and land means that women are disproportionately affected by the lack of water. 

Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to abuse and attack, often having to wait until dark to relieve themselves in the open and in unsafe toilets, or where they have to fetch water from remote locations. 

Tearfund involves both women and men in planning and managing water and sanitation services. We prioritise women's needs, concerns and preferences through a gender responsive approach to projects. We work to empower women to share their knowledge, develop their skills and strengthen their decision making powers.  

Evidence supports that this approach to gender mainstreaming can increase women's influence, visibility and participation within their own communities and in community-based WASH institutions such as Water User Groups (WUGs). 

Guidance notes on Gender and WASH 

Women and Water User Groups (PDF  1.7 MB)
Our guidance paper discusses a range of challenges to women participating in WUGs. A range of approaches and actions are introduced that can improve gender equality within communities thereby enhancing the number of women in decision making roles. Decision making means having the choice and ability to contribute at each stage of a programme. 

Women in WASH Decision-making Roles (PDF 498 KB)
Unless power imbalances between women and men are addressed, the participation of women in water programmes will not allow for women’s empowerment. Our guidance note discuss actions to empower women and explicitly focus on gender equality in decision making. 

WASH and Gender: Community Mobilisation (PDF 759 KB)  
Women’s participation in all stages of WASH projects is key to achieving sustainability and equality. Gender mainstreaming and gender sensitisation are introduced as key approaches towards these goals. 

Gender and Sanitation (PDF 739 KB)
There are multiple challenges facing women using sanitation services that affect their dignity and security. Guidance is provided on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in WASH programming and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM). Practical approaches and actions to support women in relation to sanitation programming and WASH facilities are offered.