Barriers to women adopting decision-making roles in sanitation-related public bodies and attitudinal differences between male and female decision makers

Themes: Gender Research Sanitation Urban Sanitation Research Initiative WASH Water
Countries: Kenya

Gender inequity at the level of policy, regulation and management limits the presence, voice, participation and power of women decision-makers. These gender-based inequities can then be perpetuated throughout the sanitation sector, as the needs of women and girls are inadequately addressed by programs and policies that are designed largely by men. A seemingly simple way to address women’s access to sanitation and related issues is to increase the representation of women in firms and public bodies that design products, services and interventions in the WaSH sector.

We hypothesize that increasing diversity in the design and development of products and services will help to ensure that all users are well represented, and the unique needs and problems of each user type will be more likely to be addressed.

Under this hypothesis, addressing the unique and pressing needs of women and girls in the sanitation sector requires a look behind the curtain, interrogating the internal workings of the organisations that make and implement sanitation policy, regulation and services.

Our project aims to do this in the Kenyan sanitation sector, through two objectives: (i) identify the barriers that women face in attaining decision-making posts in sanitation-related public institutions in Kenya and (ii) interrogate whether women prioritize different things when it comes to access to sanitation, as compared to male leaders in this field.