Gender and Water Alliance / Women in Europe for a Common Future

Gender sensitive indicators in sanitation and wastewater planning and implementation

Thursday 27 August | 11.00-12.30 | Room: NL 357
Sanitation planning. Photo credit: WECF

Investment in sanitation including wastewater management is urgently needed to improve public health and protect natural resources. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) still being under negotiations address this need. To ensure that the future investment in sanitation is sustainable and meets also the needs of women and girls, gender sensitive indicators should be included in the planning and implementation of projects. This is of great importance since women and girls are differently affected by inadequate sanitation and wastewater management than men and boys due to their biological differences and gender roles.

In the proposed SDG Water Goal, the needs of women and girls are explicitly mentioned only under 6.2, but it is key to also include gender aspects under other targets. However, it is not yet clear (1) how to monitor and (2) achieve these targets.

This event will contribute to the monitoring discussion especially for targets 6.2 and 6.3 focusing on sanitation, wastewater management and water quality. National decision-makers, inter alia from the AMCOW and implementers from the field, SuSanA, GIZ, BORDA, WECF, GWA, UNESCO-WWAP and UNEP will share their experiences how to monitor and to achieve gender equality under these targets in the global South and North.


Moderation by Priscilla Achakpa, Women Environment Programme, Nigeria and Sascha Gabizon, Co-Chair of Women´s Major Group, Women in Europe for a Common Future

11:00 Introduction: status of sanitation, wastewater and related gender indicators in the current SDG discussions

by Graham Alabaster, UN-Habitat, and Francesca Greco, UNESCO WWAP

Presentation of best practices

11:15 UNEP/WECF: Claudia Wendland: gender sensitive checklist for wastewater and re-use projects
11:20 AMCOW: Nelson Gomonda (tbc): Africa example
11:25 BORDA: Maren Heuvels: South-East Asia examples
11:30 UNEP/WECF/RCDA: Bistra Mihaylova: Georgia example
11:35 GWA: Shaila Shahid: Bangladesh example
11:40 GIZ: Bassam al Hayek, Ismael Nouns, Jordan example

11:45 Concrete contributions to the Sustainable Development Water Goal (SDG 6.2 and 6.3) discussions - Panel discussion with audience interaction

Bai Maas Taal, AMCOW

Uschi Eid, UNSGAB

Catarina de Albuquerque, SWA (tbc)

Birguy Lamizana, UNEP

12:20 Conclusion and closing


“Why and how to include gender sensitive indicators into the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6?” These questions were addressed by the side event on “Gender sensitive indicators in sanitation and wastewater planning and implementation“, which was held in Stockholm during the World Water Week and attended by 65 participants. Priscilla Achakpa, WEP Nigeria, moderated the side event and led through the discussion.


The international Director of WECF Sascha Gabizon introduced the UNHABITAT presentation on the current status of the SDG targets, indicators and monitoring mechanisms under SDG 6, focusing on target 6.2 (sanitation and special needs of women and girls) and target 6.3 (managing wastewater and re-use incl. water quality). She added what the Women’s Major Group has proposed as gender-responsive indicators for these SDG targets. Francesca Greco, UNESCO WWAP, presented the new toolkit on gender sensitive water monitoring and the results of the WWAP gender expert group with recommendations on gender sensitive indicators for the whole Goal 6.

Five best practices on ensuring gender-responsive wastewater projects and programs from all over the world were presented:

Nelson Gomonda, AMCOW, presented the AMCOW “gender strategy” for the African member states on gender mainstreaming and calls for monitoring data disaggregated by sex and youth. Maren Heuvels, BORDA, presented a project from India and pointed out the need to include women from the early planning stage of a project to avoid sanitation systems that will not used by women, for example because of distance and insecurity of access. Both presenters called also for the need for capacity building for men and women in waste water management.

Tynar Musabaev, CAAW, presented examples from the Caucasus and Central Asia and emphasized that appropriate sanitation leads to a number of benefits especially for women and girls.  For them privacy is the main issue, following the advantage for girls of not having to miss school when there is a good menstrual hygiene management is in place. He presented how SDG indicators can be monitored using community based data gathering and dissemination through social media. Shaila Shahid, GWA Bangladesh, highlighted the involvement of women in decision making from the beginning of the project and the need for monitoring the positions of women in wastewater management. Ismael Nouns, GIZ Jordan, gave three examples from Jordan where the inclusion of women is key for success. He presented “water wise women”, “women water plumbers” and “WASH in Schools” and he emphasized that for re-use projects (faecal sludge and wastewater) it is key to involve women in order to get the acceptance by all.

The panel with Uschi Eid (UNSGAB), Catarina de Albuquerque (SWA), Eric Hoa (UNEP), and Nelson Gomonda (AMCOW) welcomed the timing of the side event as it comes only a few days before the deadline for member states and stakeholders to submit their proposed indicators for the SDGs to the UN statistical committee.

Catarina de Albuquerque, pointed out the importance of the SDG Goals 5 (gender), 6 (water) and 10 (inequalities). “Countries have a legal human rights obligation to ensure gender equality and the human right to water & sanitation”. She added explicitly access to information and inclusion of menstrual hygiene management. She urged to go beyond WASH in schools, and rather to include kindergartens as well as working places where adequate sanitation and hygiene has to be in place. She recalled that ‘access’ to water and sanitation is not good enough an indicator, that what should be measured is the use and quality of water and sanitation provided.

“Actions follow from what we measure, is our experience” said Nelson Gomonda, therefore sex disaggregated data has to be measured, to ensure gender equitable implementation of the SDGs. Uschi Eid (UNSGAB) agreed that “What is not measured, is not being done” and called to learn from the mistakes with the MDG monitoring. She announced that the UNSGAB report to be presented in November 2015 to the UN Secretary General will cover gender relevant topics and will explicitly mention the need for Menstrual Hygiene Management. She reminded that “the choice of indicators is not a ‘technical’ decision, but a highly political one” and should not just be left to the statisticians. All have to make sure that the UN statistical committee takes the right gender sensitive indicators on board, and that only a few days are left.

Eric Hoa (UNEP) called for advancing the decision making of women in wastewater management and mentioned the gender sensitive checklist which is now being developed with WECF and lessons from world wide experiences to be taken into account.

Participants in the audience noted the need for more capacity building, including training of more female WASH engineers.

Sascha Gabizon urged the participants to take policy advocacy actions in the coming week, and to propose three indicators for the SDG goal 6, namely 1 indicator referring to Menstrual Hygiene for SDG target 6.2., another indicator on safe sanitation in schools for girls and boys, including also Menstrual Hygiene Management, and finally an indicator on gender equality in wastewater institutions and governance.

As follow up, a call was launched for all member states and stakeholders engaged in the indicator process for Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 Agenda to add WASH in Schools and Menstrual Hygiene Management to the list of indicators. The proposal was also formally submitted prior to the deadline 7 September, see details on the WECF website.