By Jacqueline Eckhardt-Gerritsen, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Working Group FINISH Mondial
Mid-February, Kenyan Senator Gloria Orwoba became the subject of a vicious online hate campaign. The reason being that she had protested against period poverty and shame – by sitting through a Senate meeting in white clothing stained with fake menstrual blood. Many of her colleagues in the Senate were outraged, some even said that: “the House of Parliament had been disgraced” by her actions. She was asked to leave the parliament.
Harmful norms, values and beliefs around menstrual health and hygiene are one concrete example of women and girls experiencing inequality. Millions of women around the word still cannot afford menstrual hygiene products. They do not have access to a safe and decent toilet to change their pads or tampons with privacy and often have little or no water to wash reusable sanitary pads. In addition, there are very often no provisions for proper disposal of menstrual hygiene products.
Menstrual hygiene management is just one area of gender and social exclusion. Women and girls, as well as other socially excluded groups (SEGs), face many other hurdles related to water, sanitation and hygiene. People with disabilities and the elderly are, for example, underrepresented in sanitation committees and therefore only seldom participate in important decision-making around WASH needs and services. Differently-abled people also oftentimes have limited access to sanitation-related grants. In general, SEGs suffer from a low socio-economic status, which means they do not have enough money to construct improved sanitation facilities, which in turn hinders their access to proper sanitation. Furthermore, many socially-excluded people suffer from self-stigma and an inferiority complex, which means their voices remain unheard.
Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a human right. The FINISH Mondial programme envisions a world in which people have access to safely managed sanitation. A world in which sanitation is included in the agenda of health and climate. A world that is gender equal and socially and financially inclusive. FINISH Mondial identifies marginalised communities and actively includes them in sanitation decision-making. FINISH Mondial also develops different technologies to better serve women and people with disabilities, capacitates and empowers women to become sanitation entrepreneurs and facilitates access to grants and credits for women and socially excluded groups.
Below an overview of our inspiring Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) stories. Meet our GESI sanitation champions!
Breaking down sanitation taboos: the female masons of Uganda
45% of the toilets constructed under the FINISH Mondial Uganda programme are built by female masons, breaking down common taboos about what the work of a mason requires. The programme boosts the economic strength of the young female masons, while realising improved sanitary facilities for their communities. One of these female masons is Tweheyo Naume. She is 23-years-old and has already constructed over 80 sanitation systems. For her, setting up her own business is a dream come true. Read her story
Helping those with disabilities access safe sanitation
It’s a basic human function, but for many people getting to a toilet is far from easy. For some people with disabilities, it means crawling through the bush or pushing a wheelchair through uneven terrain for an inordinate amount of time. A group of women in Uganda have taken matters into their own hands and decided to help those with disabilities get the access they need, with the help of FINISH Mondial. Watch the BBC report
Women leading the sanitation revolution in Maharashtra
Jayshree Yona has lived all her life without a toilet in Wadjhakan Gram Panchayat. While the men of her family can go outside anytime, Jayshree and her mother-in-law had to wait till it gets dark, making their walk to the “bush toilet” a risky endeavour. Vulnerability to violence is a real threat faced by women who practice open defecation. Jayshree Tai was one of the participants in the women group meeting conducted by FINISH Mondial who decided to construct her own household toilet. Read her story
Starting a social business to collect waste in Rangpur
An unstoppable women entrepreneur who pursued her dream to improve people’s lives by taking up one of most challenging tasks there is. She started a solid waste collection business in the city of Rangpur, Bangladesh. Roshan tells her story and the way she is transforming lives in her community in this video. Watch on Youtube
Interested in learning more about our GESI approach and achievements? Read our GESI one-pager below (or click here)