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Increasing and Improving Women’s Participation in the Rural Market for WASH

Presentation by WaterSHED at WASH Futures Conference, Brisbane, March 2018.
Download the slide deck here.


In this session, we will present findings from a two-year project focused on women’s economic empowerment in rural WASH markets. It was implemented as a pilot under the Women and Girls at the Center of Development Grand Challenge of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Most WASH interventions inherently promote gender equity because of the disproportionate burden on women of inadequate WASH. However, there are few programs that combine women’s economic empowerment with improvements in WASH, i.e. that engage women in the context of market systems development.

WaterSHED designed an experimental project to integrate women’s economic empowerment within an existing large-scale WASH market development program. Rather than taking an approach that focused on the vulnerability and needs of rural women, we aim to build on existing strengths. Main findings to be presented will include the research methodology, results from longitudinal data collection, and analysis along some innovative dimensions that shed new light on how to operationalize SDGs 5 and 6 by making WASH markets more inclusive. Highlights will include: using human centered design to develop new marketing tools to enhance the ability of female sellers to promote sanitation products; understanding the interconnectedness of self-efficacy, professional networks, household decision-making and business activities through a longitudinal household survey; and identifying practical interventions to strengthen professional networks in a rural, developing context.

The insights from this project will be synthesized in the form of recommendations to accelerate the success of women in rural WASH markets and to increase the adoption of healthy WASH behaviours.


Learn more about WaterSHED’s Women Empowerment Program here.