CHANGING THE SANITATION LANDSCAPE – NARRATIVES OF WOMEN IN SANITATION INNOVATION
Written by: Ednah Mamakoa
SASTEP held a seminar to celebrate National Women’s Day on 10 August 2022. The seminar focused on the experiences of women in sanitation, as both leaders and learners in sanitation innovation. The webinar attracted 80 participants from across the sanitation value chain and different parts of the world.
The WRC CEO opened the webinar by speaking about the role of women in leadership, her experiences and how this needs to be fostered. Professor Cathy Sutherland, School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, provided the introduction to the webinar, focusing on gender and sanitation in South Africa, and the role of women in advancing innovation in sanitation. Six women, who are engaged in different roles related to sanitation innovation, presented their stories on how they became involved in sanitation, how they relate to the world of sanitation innovation, their experiences in sanitation innovation, and their understanding of the greatest challenges and opportunities for sanitation innovation.
The women were from the six fields of influence, women as theoretical and thought leaders on gender and sanitation innovation; women as sanitation engineers; women as commercial partners in sanitation innovation; women in local government mandated for providing sanitation services; women as social and environmental assessment fieldworkers to assess sanitation in innovation; women as community leaders and recipients of sanitation innovation. The webinar was participatory, and the attendees engaged on how to frame women’s participation in sanitation innovation. This highlighted the importance of connecting women’s participation and knowledge to a gendered approach to sanitation innovation.