Women and girls are disproportionately affected by unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services. Although SDG target 6.2 calls for "paying special attention to the needs of women and girls...", the indicators used for national and global monitoring of progress on WASH do not adequately address gender inequalities.
Review of measures and indicators for gender in WASH
In late 2020, the WHO/UNICEF JMP launched a review of opportunities for enhanced monitoring of gender in relation to SDG WASH targets which was led by Emory University. Following an extensive literature review, the team developed a Conceptual Framework to inform national and global monitoring of gender equality in WASH. The conceptual framework was further refined based on feedback from expert reviewers and includes four interrelated domains: Ability to Meet Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Needs; Ability to Exercise Agency; Access to Resources; and the Multi-Level Enabling Environment. These four domains provided the basis for a subsequent in-depth review of measures and indicators for Gender in WASH and preparation of an Inventory of tools and measures with items sorted by dimension and coded by sub-theme.
In early 2021, the JMP and Emory University convened a series of expert group meetings to discuss the review findings and to identify: critical gaps in existing data sources and measurement; opportunities to leverage existing data to increase the gender focus of ongoing monitoring efforts; and opportunities and approaches to collect new data to fill gaps and needs specific to gender. The Final Report provides an easily digestible summary of key findings from the review including: conceptual framework, identification of data sources and tools, traffic light assessment of measures and indicators related to 15 dimensions across the four domains, and summary of opportunities to leverage existing data and to strengthen large and small scale monitoring. It also includes extensive appendices with updated briefs focusing on monitoring specific items identified in each dimension.
In a second phase of work, beginning in 2022 and continuing into 2023, the JMP and Emory teams worked with a core team of eight gender, measurement, and/or WASH experts to support prioritization activities, including:
- ranking dimensions of the gender equality and WASH framework to identify which are appropriate for monitoring;
- compiling potential indicators for monitoring the identified dimensions;
- deploying a survey to over 100 gender, measurement, and/or WASH experts to assess support for potential indicators; and
- assessing quantitative and qualitative data from 70+ survey respondents representing various geographies and sectors to further refine the indicator list.
Following this consultative process, a draft list of 15 priority indicators for enhanced monitoring of gender in WASH under SDG targets 6.1 and 6.2 was produced and circulated:
- % of individuals who have been water-insecure in the past month, by gender, age
- % of individuals who have worried in the last 30 days that they would not have enough water for all of their needs, by gender, age
- Among households without a drinking water source at home, % of households for which the primary water collector is woman, man, girl, or boy
- Average time primary water collector spends per day collecting drinking water, by gender, age
- Average time children spend per day collecting water for household use, by gender, age
- Average time primary water collector spends per day collecting water for household use, by gender, age
- % of individuals who felt unsafe when collecting water in the last 30 days due to fear of being harmed or assaulted by someone, by gender, age
- % of individuals who believe women in their community face the risk of being physically harmed or assaulted when going to collect water, by gender, age
- % of individuals who reported the sanitation location they usually used in the last 30 days when at home was clean, private, and safe, by gender, age
- % of individuals who felt unsafe at sanitation locations in the last 30 days due to fear of being harmed or assaulted by someone, by gender, age
- % of individuals who believe that women in their community face the risk of being physically harmed or assaulted when going to sanitation locations, by gender (of respondent)
- % of women/girls/menstruators who changed their menstrual materials in a space at home that was clean, private, and safe during their last menstrual period, by age
- % of women/girls/menstruators who reported having enough menstrual materials to change as often as they wanted during their last menstrual period, by age
- % of individuals who reported the bathing location they usually used in the past month was private and safe, by gender, age
- % of individuals who felt unsafe at bathing locations in the last 30 days due to fear of being harmed or assaulted by someone, by gender, age
The draft list was shared for public review and comment in September 2023 and the expert group recommendations will be finalized by December 2023.
The review of measures and indicators for gender in WASH was conducted by Bethany A. Caruso, Allison Salinger, Madeleine Patrick, Amelia Conrad, Sheela Sinharoy and Awa Youm from Emory University.
We would also like to thank the following experts who donated their time, effort, energy, and insights in reviewing the dimension briefs: Zach Burt (USAID), Sue Cavill (Independent Consultant), Jenala Chipungu (CIDRZ), Lucie Chocolata (FAO), Benoit Conti (UNICEF), Liza Debevec (GWP), Betsy Engbretson (WHO), Anu Paudyal Gautam (UNICEF), Shirin Heidari (WHO), Joanna Lowell (ICF), Eleanor Lucas (WaterAid), Jess MacArthur (University of Technology Sydney), Thérèse Mahon (WaterAid), Albert Motivans (Equal Measures 2030), Priya Nath (WaterAid), Neville Okwaro (Ministry of Health, Kenya), Lauren Pandolfelli (UNICEF), Virginia Roaf (Sanitation and Water for All), Ben Robinson (WaterAid), Turgay Unalan (UNICEF), Sara Valero (UN Women), Inga Winkler (Central European University), Awa Youm (Emory University), and Sera Young (Northwestern University).
We are grateful to the group of experts who engaged in the Phase 2 prioritization work: Bethany A. Caruso (Emory University), Jenala Chipungu (CIDRZ), Julie Hennegan (Burnet Institute), Albert Motivans (Equal Measures 2030), Lauren Pandolfelli (UNICEF), Madeleine Patrick (Emory University), Beesan Shonnar (Palestinian Water Authority), and Sheela Sinharoy (Emory University).