The human rights to water and sanitation are enshrined in international law, which means everyone everywhere has the right to essential and safe water and sanitation. However some people get better access to services than others. That is why addressing inequality is one of WaterAid’s aims. We work to empower citizens to demand their own rights while also working with governments to improve the quality of service provision.

WaterAid has advanced its work in women’s empowerment and gender equality. In Timor-Leste, WaterAid has rolled out strategies which encourage women and men in communities to discuss the underlying constraints to equality in water and sanitation services.

Menstrual hygiene management is a taboo subject, often neglected by policy-makers. This directly affects the access that women and girls have to sanitation and good hygiene. In Myanmar, WaterAid and the Burnet Institute are researching menstrual hygiene management in monastic schools. In Timor-Leste, we are delivering menstrual hygiene management in schools, with the Ministries of Health and Education.

Recognising that people living with disabilities are often excluded from water, sanitation and hygiene services, WaterAid is focusing on influencing policy and social change. In Cambodia, WaterAid led a project with government to produce a set of National Guidelines on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene to include people with disabilities and older people.

In Papua New Guinea, WaterAid led a situational analysis to understand the experiences of people with disabilities. The findings highlight how gender, disability and age impact a person’s access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and are being used in advocacy with the disability rights and women’s empowerment sectors.

Reducing inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene is fundamental to reducing poverty, and a step towards a more fair and just world.