The lack or absence of basic services is neither unbiased nor does it affect everyone equally; rather, certain groups are more vulnerable than others.Women and girls, for example, face discrimination and inequality in access to adequate drinking water and sanitation. Sanitation is a basic human right;it is thus important to ensure that sanitation is available to all, at all times.
One globally-celebrated strategy for incorporating an inclusive angle to service delivery is Gender Integration. It proposes that the concerns and experiences of all genders be an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes. Gender integration can help ensure that policies are inclusive, of higher quality and of greater value for society as they respond more effectively to the needs of all citizens. It can also ensure that public interventions do not create or perpetuate inequalities. However, to ensure that every individual, including the most marginalised, have access to sanitation, it is important to realise that gender mainstreaming, with a women-centric approach alone, is not enough. One must look at all the vulnerabilities within and beyond gender.
Sanitation for all at all times is a goal of national and state-level policies. Over the last few years Andhra Pradesh has shown remarkable progress in the sanitation sector. To preserve this momentum, it is important to look how well the state fares in keeping with the global commitment to being inclusive and equitable, i.e. “leaving no one behind”.
In this context, the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) are engaged in a collaborative project titled ‘Intersectionality-Informed Framework for Implementation of Effective Gender Mainstreaming in WSH: Andhra Pradesh’ supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The project aims to empower communities, strengthen agencies and advance policies, regulations, and processes for increased accessibility to sanitation services.
This will be demonstrated through an inclusive and implementable framework that looks at the cumulative impact of different social factors such as gender, age, ability, socio-economic class, etc. on to sanitation across. The principles and tenets of this framework will be mainstreamed for policy interventions, opportunities for dialogue, legislative frameworks, sustainable agencies, resource allocation/use, planning tools, implementation guidelines and monitoring framework. This framework is being piloted in three towns of Andhra Pradesh (Anantapur, Kovvur and Narsapur). Capacities at state and city levels will be built to integrate and implement the framework into respective state sanitation strategy and City Sanitation Plans (CSPs).
As a first step of the project, social mobilisation platforms were set up at neighbourhood and city level in Anantapur, Kovvur and Narsapur. These structures were not only based on the principles of gender mainstreaming, but enshrined inclusiveness to the highest extent possible by considering the unique experiences of various socially and occupationally marginalised groups. Creating and capacitating social mobilisation platforms are critical components of successful gender mainstreaming. Gender Forums (GFs) in urban poor settlements and Gender Resource Centres (GRCs) in Urban Local Bodies have demonstrated how gender can be integrated and institutionalised.
The consortium is a collaboration of three organisations with varied strengths in research, policy implementation and community mobilisations. CSTEP has expertise in urban planning and evidence-based research and designed the original framework, based on lessons and experience of CFAR, in Andhra Pradesh and other states. ASCI’s efforts were targeted towards implementing and institutionalising the framework at the policy-level, while CFAR’s skills in advocacy and community engagement helped in sensitising and facilitating dialogues for gender mainstreaming in the different cities.