Good Mums: A Gender Equality Perspective on the Constructions of the Mother in Handwashing Campaigns

March 2020

The first part of this paper provides a brief overview of the framing of women in hygiene interventions. The following section provides a review of the literature on best practices for handwashing and hygiene, as framed by discourses on the good mother. The goal of this paper is to illustrate how promotional approaches are targeting mothers to change handwashing and hygiene behavior, and to contrast such interventions with the possibility of more gender transformative approaches. We argue that women don’t always implement the handwashing practices they would prefer. This is clearly not due to laziness and thoughtlessness, and it is important to understand the factors women negotiate when making decisions. Furthermore, we argue that by reinforcing, legitimating, and perpetuating the idea of the good mother, hygiene promotion seeks to achieve short-term gains on hygiene at the expense of long-term gains on sustainable behavior change coupled with gender justice and equality.

Additional details

PublisherwH20: The Journal of Gender and Water
ThemesBehaviour change, Campaigns, Gender, Gender transformative WASH, Handwashing, Health, Hygiene

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