Inclusive WASH Workplaces

When considering gender equality, disability and social inclusion in WASH, we need to look at both the people who are benefiting from and managing WASH systems, and the institutions that shape and deliver WASH services. We also need to transform these organisations so that they “walk the talk” of equality and inclusion.

Importance of a Diverse Workforce

WASH organisations are the entities through which WASH standards, policies, services and systems are identified, developed and delivered. Therefore, equality and diversity within WASH organisations are a key part of transforming the WASH sector. Institutional change is needed to achieve gender equality and inclusion outcomes in programs and structures. In addition, there is increasing evidence that organisations with women (in all their diversity) in senior positions, and greater diversity overall, perform better and that these women have a positive impact on organisations’ governance, identities and public images.

Greater diversity in leadership and decision-making positions also serves to provide much-needed role models for other employees to aspire to, and their presence attracts more women and members of minorities to join organisations by normalising diversity in senior roles. Diversity also serves to promote an inclusive work culture when gender equality and inclusion are prioritised and normalised, for example by developing and aligning organisational policies that are shaped by the lived experiences of employees.

An inclusive workforce supports the interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example by promoting SDG 5 (gender quality) and SDG 6 (water and sanitation for all) in an integrated manner. Moreover, leaving no one behind (LNOB) in WASH is impossible to achieve without an inclusive WASH workforce (including in management and governance structures) in institutions to represent the diverse and marginalised voices and challenge the inherent biases of those in power.

ISF-UTS and partners conducted research on gender dynamics in Cambodia and Indonesia, along with a document review of organisational activities and strategies from across the globe to address gender equality and inclusion. The following guidance and database is a result of this extensive research which spans both within and beyond the WASH sector.

An infographic which provides a framing of this guidance at a range of stages. 1. Diagnosis: deeply understand the power dynamics in the workplace, especially around gender, disability, sexual orientation and other factors, and analyse core issues and potential causes of the issues. 2. Attraction: Attract a diversity of people to WASH roles. 3. Recruitment: Eliminate discrimination in recruitment processes, and increase diversity. 4. Retention: a) Dynamics (informal) - Foster safe and equal workplace dynamics through how decisions are made, who has voice and influence, and valuing different leadership styles, b) Policies (formal) – Support all individuals to have an equitable balance of work-life demands, fair wages, accessible facilities and eliminating sexual harassment and discrimination. 5. Advancement: Provide training, mentorship, networking opportunities, support leadership, promotion and career advancement for all staff. Underlying all five stages is the overarching theme: 6. Societal expectations.

The framing of this guidance note and the activities database, are adapted from the Equal Aqua: Inclusive Water Institutions Platform framework.

Guidance

This guidance document is intended to support WASH workplaces to become more inclusive. It highlights the context and provides actionable ideas, tools and responses to GEDSI inequalities across the various stages in a career cycle, as represented in the framework above. It supports the many calls to action on gender and inclusion by looking at dimensions of inequality within the WASH workforce, with a practical approach to change them, drawing on international examples, literature and practice.

download

PDF | 7.5 MB

 

Database

The Inclusive Water and Sanitation Database builds from the Equal Aqua Initiative, and is an interactive tool which includes over 180 gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI) initiatives from organisations across the world, including water and sanitation utilities, government departments, civil society organisations, enterprises and the private sector. Examples have been sought from a range of countries and regions. As a living document, it will grow as more examples from around the world are added.

download

EXCEL | 1.4 MB

Guidance

This guidance document is intended to support WASH workplaces to become more inclusive. It highlights the context and provides actionable ideas, tools and responses to GEDSI inequalities across the various stages in a career cycle, as represented in the framework above. It supports the many calls to action on gender and inclusion by looking at dimensions of inequality within the WASH workforce, with a practical approach to change them, drawing on international examples, literature and practice

download

PDF | 7.5 MB

 

Database

The Inclusive Water and Sanitation Database builds from the Equal Aqua Initiative, and is an interactive tool which includes over 180 gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI) initiatives from organisations across the world, including water and sanitation utilities, government departments, civil society organisations, enterprises and the private sector. Examples have been sought from a range of countries and regions. As a living document, it will grow as more examples from around the world are added.

download

EXCEL | 1.4 MB

Additional Resources

Inclusive WASH Workforce

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

“Women who have a WASH job like me are proud and honoured”

This summary brief describes how women can participate in and benefit from being part of the government WASH workforce in Cambodia

Type: Summary Brief

Date: January 2022

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

“We cannot work alone”: A study of WASH and gender equality civil society partnerships

This summary brief presents findings from research on the drivers, benefits, and challenges of engagement between water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) civil society organisations (CSOs) and gender equality and women’s rights organisations in Indonesia.

Type: Summary Brief

Date: February 2022

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

Working together: A study of WASH and gender equality civil society partnerships in Timor-Leste

This summary brief shares highlights from a study that aimed to better understand connections and engagement between water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) civil society organisations (CSOs) and women’s and gender equality and inclusion (GESI) CSOs in Timor-Leste.

Type: Summary Brief

Date: August 2022

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

Gender equality in the government water, sanitation, and hygiene workforce in Indonesia: An analysis through the Gender at Work framework

Gender inequality remains a persistent challenge in workforces globally, with the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) workforce no exception. This paper aimed to investigate gender dynamics in the Indonesian government WASH workforce at national and subnational levels and evolve conceptual foundations for this type of study.

Type: Journal Article

Date: September 2021

Citation: Soeters S, Siscawati M, Ratnasari, et al. (2021) Gender equality in the government water, sanitation, and hygiene workforce in Indonesia: an analysis through the Gender at Work framework. Development Studies Research 8(1). 280–293. DOI: 10.1080/21665095.2021.1978300

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

Women in Leadership- Reflections from the government WASH workforce in Indonesia  

This summary brief presents the key findings from research to investigate gender dynamics in the Indonesian water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) government workforce at national and subnational levels, using the Gender at Work framework.

Type: Summary Brief

Date: December 2021

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

What will it take to strengthen diversity amongst female water, sanitation and hygiene entrepreneurs in Indonesia?

This summary brief presents the key findings from research to investigate the multi-dimensional enablers and barriers faced by female water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) entrepreneurs in the context of Eastern Indonesia.

Type: Summary Brief

Date: December 2021

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

Gender equality and women in WASH enterprises in Cambodia: A synthesis of studies

This synthesis of recent studies compiles literature and practical experiences of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working with women in WASH enterprises in Cambodia.

Type: Synthesis Report

Date: April 2020

Title_GTSA_Nobo Jatra Program Case Study Learning Report

Private Sector Learning Agenda: Reading List

This curated reading list compiles key resources related to private sector engagement in WASH, with a focus on inclusion. 

Type: Reading List

Updated: March 2022

Learn more about ISF's Inclusive WASH Workforce Research