Practical guidance to address gender equality while strengthening water sanitation and hygiene systems

January 2019

WASH system strengthening refers to the environment into which WASH services and behaviours are introduced, with the aim to ensure these services and behaviours are sustained. It can also be an opportunity to empower women and tackle gender inequality. This guidance supports actors to understand gender-related issues from a systems perspective and explains how to move towards gender transformative practice in WASH system strengthening. The guide sets out three practical steps to guide actors to analyse gender issues across eight building blocks (coordination, strategic planning, financing, institutional arrangements, accountability, service delivery, monitoring and environment), and to thereby to move from inclusion of women towards empowerment outcomes and, in the longer term, to tackle deeper gender equality issues and achieve more transformative gender outcomes.

Who might find this resource useful and why?

Who: WASH sector actors, WASH programme managers, implementation partners, policy makers and local/national government, WASH governance actors

Why: WASH development partners are focusing on strengthening systems such as government policies, strategies, public financing and coordination as well as governments’ capacities to manage the WASH sector. At the same time, system strengthening can be leveraged as an opportunity to support gender transformative change. This guidance note introduces participatory processes and practical steps for how sector strengthening tools can be used to empower women and shift harmful gender norms, while achieving more sustainable WASH services. The guidance explains and applies a series of ‘gender levels’ (which are harmful, inclusive, empowering and transformative) to design or assess gender outcomes in WASH. It aims to support actors with action planning to move toward gender transformative approaches in WASH systems.

Additional details

ThemesGovernment leadership, Support mechanisms, Sustainability and safely managed sanitation

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