Giving Compass’ Take:
• The World Bank reports that women across the world are most affected by a lack of access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), particularly during menstruation.
• How can aid organizations and other NGOs fix this problem, incorporating more gender equity into their WASH programs? Awareness of the problem is the first step.
• When it comes to WASH funding in general, we need more action.
Women and girls are particularly affected by the lack of safe and accessible water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). They suffer during menstruation and childbirth, and also carry the burden of hours spent collecting water when is it not easily accessible, causing them to miss school and risk rape and harassment. To address this, women and girls are emphasized in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6: “By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.”
While anecdotal evidence is important — and well known — it is critical to also collect data and indicators to quantify the problems, to sensitize and inform stakeholders, and ultimately, to find solutions. However, we are struggling with a global lack of monitoring to collect such data.
The paper “What can existing data on water and sanitation tell us about menstrual hygiene management?” is short-listed in the recent Waterlines’ Jeroen Ensink Memorial Prize, commemorating the efforts of Dr. Ensink to improve the lives of those who today still live without access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
We found some striking data:
- Half a billion women globally, or 13% of all women, lack a place to defecate, and likely lack privacy for menstrual hygiene management (MHM). (197: Number of countries for which such estimates were available in 2015.)
- Data on handwashing suggests, by proxy, that lack of cleansing materials is a particular challenge for MHM. In six out of ten countries with available data, over 3/4 of women lack access to soap and water. (54: Number of countries for which such estimates were available in 2015.)
Read the full article about lack of WASH access hitting women the hardest by Libbet Loughnan at World Bank.
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