Photo: Nancy Brown / Getty Images.

About the project

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 often promise to improve gender and social equality by reducing women and girls’ domestic workload and freeing up time for educational and other livelihood opportunities. While this may be true, evaluation practice in the WASH sector tends to concentrate on public health outcomes. In fact, most of the existing evidence synthesis on this subject does not 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 evidence for effective mainstreaming of gender and social equality in WASH interventions.

Co-design process

As a part of the planning stage of the review, SEI engaged with a variety of stakeholders. Two workshops were organized in May and June 2020, and the review planning document (a systematic review protocol) was opened for inputs from the general public, practitioners, researchers and other stakeholders between 16 July and 3 August 2020. In the document below you can see the inputs received along with information on how they were addressed. Thanks to everyone who contributed and helped to co-design the review protocol.