Gender plays a crucial role in developing countries’ ability to ensure improved water and sanitation services are delivered to all citizens. According to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report, when services fail, women and girls are disproportionately affected.
The worst disparity is the rate at which girls and women die relative to men. Each year, an estimated 3.9 million more women under the age of 60 die in low- and middle-income countries. The productivity of women who survive is compromised by multiple factors, including inadequate access to water and sanitation facilities. Hours spent fetching water each day leave less time to pursue economic activities and reinforces employment segregation, limiting women to the lowest paying and most unstable jobs. The sustainable solution, therefore, is not to tackle the disadvantages faced by women and girls, but to render those disadvantages irrelevant by improving institutional quality. For example, if schools are equipped with safe, private sanitation facilities, girls are more likely to stay in school.
This year, the World Bank/Water and Sanitation Program’s calendar depicts water and sanitation challenges from a gender perspective to call attention to some of the social norms that result from, and reinforce poor service quality.
Congratulations to the winners of our first cartoon contest, whose ideas were adapted for this year’s calendar. And a special thank you to the talented artists from around the world who helped us craft these very critical and important messages with creativity and passion, while staying true to the calendar’s tradition of raising awareness through humor.
Related publication: Gender in Water and Sanitation (PDF)