The issue explained

The effects of a lack of clean water and decent toilets are felt most by women and girls. Girls and boys often begin collecting water as children and girls continue to collect and carry water throughout their lives.

Many girls spend hours each day collecting water, which can leave them with reduced time to go to school. Those that do go, may miss school, or drop out entirely, when they start to menstruate because there isn’t anywhere to keep clean.

Without a private place to go to the toilet, many women only go at night, when the risk of assault, sexual harassment or animal attacks is increased. This is the daily reality of life for many women in developing countries.

But there are many other challenges for women without clean water, sanitation or hygiene.

Our approach

Getting women and girls involved is key to successful water and sanitation services. We ensure that women are consulted about their preferences for project design, especially where taps and toilets should be placed, and what features they need to have in order to best meet the needs of their communities.

Involving women and girls in projects is important not only because it helps projects better meet people’s needs, but also, and perhaps more importantly, because it positively impacts women's positions in the community. We also engage men to shift their attitudes and change harmful gender norms and power dynamics.

When women take up roles on community water management committees, their standing and respect within communities are enhanced. Putting women in positions of authority can hep them gain confidence, increase their voice and change gender roles within communities.

Involving women in change outside the community is important, too. Whether working with district governments in an area where we implement projects, or speaking before the United Nations, we ensure women’s voices are present, to help policy makers better understand what makes a tap, toilet, or hygiene campaign work for them.

When people have access to clean water, a decent toilet and can practice good hygiene they’re less likely to get ill.

Social exclusion

We seek to tackle exclusion and marginalisation wherever it occurs.

Building services that last

We’re focused on ensuring that water and sanitation services continue to work over time.

Our work with girls and women

With water, toilets and hygiene, we can change the future for families like Solo's in Madagascar.

Two girls smiling at the camera
Image: WaterAid/ Vlad Sokhin