Women are the most severely affected by the lack of clean and accessible toilets in urban areas, especially in slum localities. They often have to wait until dark and walk to open areas outside the community, increasing the risk of sexual assault and harassment, as well as infections, diseases and snakebites. Access to toilets designed for and with the participation of women is vital and in high demand because of their specific needs (i.e. privacy, dignity, security and menstrual hygiene) and is illustrated by women’s willingness to pay for clean toilets. Gender requirement have been included into the national guidelines on Public Toilet Projects, yet it is the cities that need to ensure women, children and the disabled have access to safe and clean toilets.
Cities need to integrate a gender-sensitive approach across the complete PTM process. Awareness regarding these issues needs to be generated among all stakeholders particularly women, local leaders, ULBs and the general public. The maintenance of toilets is crucial as it directly affects the use of toilets by women (cleanliness, safety). A gender-sensitive approach involves the following steps:
for different stages of the project cycle (site selection, design, planning, construction, O&M, upscaling).
A detailed gender analysis is key to identifying the main concerns, needs and perceptions of women and children. It should be conducted during the planning stage of any PT project to inform the construction or retrofitting and O&M of public toilets (e.g. physical infrastructure, cleaning cycles). This should include sample surveys of a few toilets, field visits, one-on-one discussions, observation of usage pattern and physical infrastructure, and gender proofing of National Guidelines for PT Projects
Potential activities for each gender head (Figure) need to be identified and integrated into the assessment, planning, implementation and monitoring stage of each PT project (Figure). Gender aspects should be reflected in the location, design, infrastructure (in & outside), support services, management and awareness generation.