An Exploration of Women’s Sanitation-related Decision-making, Leadership, Collective Action, and Freedom of Movement in Urban Tiruchirappalli, India Restricted; Files Only
Doma, Rinchen (Spring 2022)
Introduction: Sanitation research in rural and urban India has emphasized the disproportionate burden that unsafe and inadequate WASH can have on women and girls. However, there is a gap in research exploring women’s agency in relation to their sanitation experiences, and agency is an integral domain of their empowerment.
Aim: To explore sanitation-related agency, specifically the sub-domains of decision-making, leadership, collective action, and freedom of movement among women in urban Tiruchirappalli, India.
Methods: This is a secondary analysis of data generated from cognitive interviews conducted by Emory University that aimed to validate survey tools to measure women’s empowerment in urban sanitation across countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Eleven interviews were carried out to explore the sub-domains of agency related to sanitation and were qualitatively analyzed to explore key themes and patterns emerging about women’s decision-making, leadership, collective action, and freedom of movement. The participants were purposively sampled across two neighborhoods based on their age and life stage.
Results: Women reported strong support for women’s sanitation-related leadership and decision-making abilities, sharing personal anecdotes of sanitation initiatives organized collectively by women in the community. While women were regularly considered experts on sanitation-related issues due to their role as primary caretakers in the household, several limitations prevented complete freedom to participate in sanitation-related initiatives. These limitations spanned all levels, including societal norms that constrained women’s involvement, local authorities’ lack of response to women’s initiatives, and women’s lack of self-confidence in leadership roles.
Conclusion: This qualitative analysis highlights the value of strong trust among women and confidence in their ability to make important sanitation-related decisions at all levels of society. Interventions must recognize their expertise in large or small sanitation-related issues and highlight successful women-led sanitation initiatives to further enable women to participate. Communities should have spaces where women’s sanitation-related opinions can be comfortably shared and practice governance that respects and encourages women’s engagement in addressing sanitation issues. WASH programming must engage with authority figures, leaders, and officials when seeking to increase women’s agency and involvement with sanitation-related issues. Outreach programs where sanitation leaders and authority figures interact with the general community and especially encourage local women’s participation in sanitation initiatives can help address the exclusivity within sanitation leadership.
Table of Contents
LITERATURE REVIEW 6
Why is WASH important? 6
Women and WASH 10
Sanitation in India 12
Impact of Sanitation on Women and Girls in India 14
Empowerment: Agency 19
PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS 60
About this Master's Thesis
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