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< prev - next > Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment (Printable PDF)
Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment 21
Women and men have different sanitation needs
Women and men have different needs and customs when it comes to sanitation.
Men may be more comfortable than women relieving themselves in public or open
spaces. Women are burdened with a greater share of family work like collecting water
and firewood, cooking, and cleaning. They are usually responsible for taking care of
children and their sanitation
needs as well. All of these things
affect their access to toilets that
are safe, clean, comfortable, and
Addressing women’s needs
often challenges traditional ideas
about how decisions are made.
Because it may be difficult to make
or accept changes, it takes time
and effort by both men and women
to improve health for everyone.
The activity on page 22 can help
promote discussion about some of
the problems women have gaining
access to safe sanitation.
It is generally easier for men to relieve
themselves than it is for women.
Sanitation planning with women’s needs in mind
While women have needs for safe and healthy sanitation, they may not have the
money, resources, power, or confidence to ensure that their needs are met. Leaving
women out of sanitation planning puts them at a greater risk of health problems. This
increases their burden even more.
Men must provide incentives for women to participate in community sanitation in
a way that does not simply give them more work to do, especially the most unpleasant
tasks. This requires:
• organizing meetings at times when women can participate.
• ensuring that women are invited to speak out and can feel
comfortable speaking out.
• having separate meetings for women if it makes open
discussion easier.
• sharing decision-making power.
Women usually teach and care for children. When women’s
needs are not met, the needs of future generations may be
unmet as well. When women are not included in planning
household and community sanitation, the whole
community suffers.
If you teach a man, you teach one
person. If you teach a woman, you
teach a whole nation.
— African proverb