Gender Transformative Planning for Urban Sanitation in India
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It has been highlighted through various researches that women and adolescent girls are very adversely affected by lack of access to clean toilets. Poor location, improper design, and insufficient maintenance prevent women and adolescent girls to use public toilet blocks. Further, they also face many challenges and risks regarding safety and dignity while using public toilets. Provision of facilities such as water and electricity is critical to ensure that women use public toilets. Women usually avoid using toilets at night in the absence of sufficient lighting for fear of safety. At present, in India, sanitation has assumed a critical focus and it is a part of most of the flagship urban development programs. The paper attempts to examine the existing policy and programs on urban sanitation in India through a gender lens. Studies have indicated that sanitation programs designed and run with the full participation of women is more sustainable and effective than those that do not. It has also been seen that success has been achieved whenever leaders have promoted the role of women in decision-making, capacity building, educating children on sanitation and hygiene, and mobilizing political will. The central argument presented in the paper is that to sustain sanitation infrastructure and facilities, not only should the overall national sanitation framework and programs have to be gender sensitive, it is absolutely imperative to successfully incorporate gender perspective in the sanitation agenda at all levels of government. This can be done by the direct involvement of both men and women across stakeholders—national, regional and local governments, communities and civil society organizations, donors, and international organizations. It concludes by outlining the actions needed to mainstream gender in urban sanitation policy and planning.
KeywordsGender security Water sanitation Toilet policy Women empowerment Case studies
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