Why is it important

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.

How to go about it 

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:

1. Gender Benchmark Indicators

for different stages of the project cycle (site selection, design, planning, construction, O&M, upscaling).

2. Detailed gender analysis

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


Gender aspects (activities) for public toilet management


3. Gender entry points across the PTM process

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.

Gender entry points in project cycle





















Application On Ground


The city identified five projects for gender-sensitive public toilets. Each project considers gender aspects across the complete PTM process - right from the planning stage, while organizing user satisfaction / demand surveys (sampling size specifically included women to capture their perceptions). The identified service quality requirements that emerged have been integrated in the toilet design and O&M (norms, performance standards, etc.). To ensure operators meet the service expectations, Tirupati included them in form of a service charter for toilet maintenance in the contract (e.g. engagement of women in service provision) and monitors the compliance through the accordingly designed monitoring framework (e.g. gender specific user satisfaction surveys).


The city identified 3 gender-sensitive public toilet projects for the rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of a total of 125 public and community toilets across the city. A detailed gender analysis was carried out to select the toilets and assess user perceptions from gender perspective. This included field visits to 9 toilets (7 public toilets and 2 community toilets), 1 to 1 discussions with female users and the observation of usage pattern and physical infrastructure. Gender-relevant criteria and indicators from the female users perspective have been developed for the complete project and are being applied in the respective project steps - assessment, planning and strategy (design, tendering), implementation (construction, O&M) monitoring and sustainability. For instance, during the development of the contract documents, gender needs were integrated as one area requiring compliance. The respective service charter was translated into indicators that form the basis of the monitoring framework. The operator’s services are being assessed on specific gender aspects like women’s needs, safety during access, privacy, etc.