Opening the Doors to the Hidden WASH Needs of Women from the Onset of the Perimenopause in Urban Ghana
Recent debates on ensuring equity and inclusion in sanitation and hygiene provision in the Global South have begun to explore the needs of excluded groups of individuals. Yet, the sanitation and hygiene needs of perimenopausal (PM) women, who are making the transition to menopause, are neglected.
This study explores this new field of research and aims to provide recommendations to meet the sanitation and hygiene needs of PM women. Opening the doors to these needs warrants the use of adaptive, participative, feminist methodologies, placing PM women at the centre of the study to enable them to share their experiences. This research uses a six-stage case study methodology: a literature review, a phenomenological review, research design, case study selection, data collection, and data analysis.
This research identified several sanitation and hygiene needs as crucial to PM women’s health. This research concludes that the hidden sanitation and hygiene needs of PM women require participatory techniques to reveal them. Relationships with certain people allow PM women to discuss and meet the sanitation and hygiene needs to a degree. PM symptoms vary in nature, between women and day to day. This research demonstrates that the sanitation and hygiene sector needs to become more attentive to bathing and laundry issues overall, learning from the needs of PM women.
Amidst the rhetoric of participation, evidence from some contexts suggests that the very projects and processes that appear inclusive and transformative may support a status quo that is highly inequitable for women. This paper attempts to address some of the questions and challenges surrounding participatory development, in terms of who participates, in what and on what basis, who benefits and who loses out. Highlighting some of the tensions that run through 'gender-aware' participatory development, it draws on empirical material from Africa and Asia to explore the gender dimensions of participation in projects, planning and policy processes. In doing so, it reflects on strategies and tactics that have been used in efforts to make participatory development more gender sensitive. Much depends, the paper suggests, on how 'gender' is interpreted and deployed in development settings. The pervasive slippage between 'involving women' and 'addressing gender' may be tactically expedient, but it provokes a series of questions about the extent to which current understandings of 'gender' in development mask other inequalities and forms of exclusion. Making a difference, the paper suggests, requires rethinking 'gender' and addressing more directly the issues of power and powerlessness that lie at the heart of both Gender and Development (GAD) and participatory development.
This practitioner research, carried out by women’s empowerment organisation FAMM Indonesia, brings the voices of young women – a group consistently excluded from decision-making spaces about the allocation of local government resources – into the conversation about social accountability. Barriers to young (especially unmarried) women’s participation in public spaces include the prevailing view that doing so violates social norms, young women’s often low level of education, and family expectations. Many young women have internalised their marginalisation and lack the confidence to participate in community forums.
This paper describes participatory action research carried out in partnership with eight grassroots Indonesian women’s NGOs. Preliminary focus group discussions laid the foundation for a series of movement-building initiative workshops to strengthen rural young women’s leadership capacity, encourage critical awareness and develop their roles as community organisers. Young women’s social engagement can generate criticism and backlash, which may lead to their losing interest in public forums. As well as empowering participation in formal meetings, the research suggests that young women can overcome closed spaces through building on informal relationships and collaborations. And young women’s involvement in producing creative content (print, audio and multimedia) for use in community organising is used to strengthen their self-esteem and abilities.
The paper ends with a reflective conversation between Niken Lestari of FAMM and Francesca Feruglio of MAVC. They discuss the kind of capacity-building needed to enable young women to overcome barriers to their engagement in local governance spaces, and thus fulfil their own declared potential to contribute much more to the development of their communities.
This IDS working paper is one of a series arising from the Pathways to Participation project which was initiated in Jan 1999 by the Participation Group, with the aim of taking stock of the first 10 years of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). There is a tendency to call any development practice that in some way involves local people 'participatory', and a huge diversity of meanings and practices can be hidden under this umbrella term. Additionally, the term 'participation' has become uncritically associated with 'empowerment'. Such oversimplified representations ignore the fact that participatory practice will vary greatly according to the context within which it operates. The paper analyses one particular approach to participatory development developed by SPEECH, an NGO working in Tamil Nadu, India, focusing specifically on gender relations. The paper draws on fieldwork from two communities - Kottam and Maniyampatti - in which SPEECH have been working for a lengthy period. The authors suggest that SPEECH's participatory practices are shaped by how both the staff and the local actors understand participation. As a result, the two communities have developed different participatory processes. The paper describes the notion that empowerment through participation is a relational and varied process occurring in spaces where people are able to interact according to an 'unusual' set of rules (i.e. during PRA workshops). The authors contend that such a process can have wider effects on social relations in everyday life, although, in this particular case study, certain aspects of gender relations have remained unchanged.