Gender Inequalities in WASH
Inequalities in WASH in the global water crisis is a vital topic that resonates with the essence of what we do as plumbers.
This conversation is about the intersection of gender and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) around the globe. As plumbers, we should be 100% committed to making this crucial issue as accessible as possible for all.
Unveiling the Stark Reality: The Intersection of Gender and WASH
A recent report, “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) 2000-2022: Special focus on gender” by UNICEF and WHO, provides the first in-depth analysis of gender inequalities in WASH. It sheds light on the disparities and reveals a startling reality: women and girls bear the brunt of the responsibility for water collection worldwide, often at the expense of their safety, education, and leisure time.
Cecilia Sharp, UNICEF Director of WASH and CEED, poignantly articulates the effect of these conditions: “Every step a girl takes to collect water is a step away from learning, play, and safety.” She highlights that the lack of adequate WASH facilities affects girls’ potential, compromises their well-being, and perpetuates poverty cycles.
The Numbers Speak: Gender Disparities in WASH
Statistically, 1.8 billion people globally live without on-premises water supplies. In such circumstances, women and girls over 15 shoulder the task in 70% of households, contrasted with 30% where men and boys are responsible.
Additionally, girls under 15 are almost twice as likely as boys to be assigned this duty.
The consequences are grave: women and girls often undertake lengthy treks to collect water, risking physical injury and foregoing opportunities for education, work, and leisure.
Shared Sanitation Facilities: A Threat to Women’s Privacy and Safety
Over half a billion people share sanitation facilities with other households, infringing on women’s and girls’ privacy and safety.
These shared facilities often make women and girls feel unsafe when walking alone at night and face potential threats of sexual harassment and other safety risks.
Health Risks and Lack of Private Hygiene Facilities
The report also highlights increased health risks for women and girls due to inadequate WASH services. These services’ inadequacies limit their ability to safely and privately manage their periods.
In a study across 51 countries, the poorest women and adolescent girls, along with those with disabilities, are most likely to lack a private place to wash and change.
Hygiene Access and its Effects on Education and Employment
Inadequate hygiene access also disproportionately affects women and girls.
In many countries, they shoulder the majority of domestic chores and caring responsibilities, exposing them to disease risks and hindering their chances of completing secondary education and securing employment due to the extra time spent on these duties.
Signs of Progress and the Road Ahead
Despite the grim statistics, there is some hope. Progress is visible: between 2015 and 2022, household access to safely managed drinking water rose from 69 to 73%; safely managed sanitation from 49 to 57%; and basic hygiene services from 67 to 75%.
However, the pace of progress needs to accelerate significantly to reach the Sustainable Development Goal target for universal access to safely managed drinking water, sanitation, and essential hygiene services by 2030.
The Way Forward: Integrating Gender Considerations in WASH Programmes
It’s clear that there is a need to factor in gender considerations in WASH programmes and policies and the need for data collection and analysis, all aimed at targeted interventions that address the specific needs of women and girls and other vulnerable groups.
Gender Inequalities in WASH Cannot Be Overlooked
In conclusion, the role of women and girls in addressing the global water crisis is essential and cannot be overlooked.
By highlighting these issues and understanding the gender dynamics in WASH, we can make strides towards ensuring universal access to water and sanitation and achieving gender equality and empowerment.
It’s a responsibility that all of us, including us here at Whywait Plumbing, are keen to uphold.