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Promoting gender and social equality (GSE) is a vital element of any sustainability strategy because stark disparities between people undermine the effectiveness of development work.

Poor water and sanitation disproportionately impact women and girls due to the traditional gender roles and norms and because of certain biological factors. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions are often complex and comprise multiple components, including water supply, hygiene education, construction of toilets and handwashing stations, sometimes integrated with nutrition components.

WASH interventions usually promise better gender and social equality by reducing the workload and freeing the time for educational and other livelihood opportunities, and thereby, equalizing power relationships. While this may be true, the evaluation practice of the WASH sector tends to concentrate on public health outcomes. In fact, most of the existing evidence synthesis on this subject doesn’t explicitly focus on gender, education or other social outcomes.

This project aims to bridge this gap by mapping and synthesizing the evidence on the gender and social equality outcomes in complex WASH interventions

Specifically, the research team aims to answer the following questions:

  • What is the impact of complex WASH interventions on gender and social equality outcomes in low- and middle-income countries?
  • What are barriers to or facilitators of change in these outcomes?
  • What are the knowledge gaps within this subject?
  • What are the methodological deficiencies and the best practices in relevant primary research?

This review will help to conceptualize gender and social equality outcomes in the WASH work and support the development of tools for accurate measurement and evaluation of GSE outcomes. As a result, the review findings will equip policy-makers and practitioners with an evidence-based actionable framework for an effective mainstreaming of gender and social equality in WASH interventions.