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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: A Pathway to Realizing Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls

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Based on the contributions of 17 organizations and individuals, this position paper presents the business case for WASH as a critical pathway to realizing the ambitions of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy - a rights-based framework to guide Canada’s international development efforts that places gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of poverty reduction. It draws on examples from the WASH sector and demonstrates how the sector takes an evidence-based, innovative, gendered and rights-based approach to transforming the lives of women and girls, and the communities in which they live.

The framework provides 10 reasons WASH is a Pathway to Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls:

1. Women and girls are empowered when they have control over the resources to meet their WASH needs and
   participate in the provision of WASH services.
2. WASH is a pillar of public health.
3. WASH is a determining factor for nutrition outcomes.
4. Investments in WASH contribute to reducing sexual and gender-based violence.
5. Investments in WASH reduce the burden of unpaid work on women and girls, and facilitate participation
   in education, employment, leisure activities and decisionmaking.
6. Appropriate water and sanitation facilities in schools leads to better education and health outcomes
   for girls and boys and supports girls’ menstrual hygiene management.
7. Water and sanitation services provide economic opportunities for women.
8. WASH is an important entry point to build national and local government capacity to meet the needs of
   women and girls.
9. WASH services are critical for meeting the basic needs of women and girls in humanitarian and fragile
10.The impact of climate change will increasingly test the resilience of sanitation systems and the
   availability of safe water owing to floods, droughts and extreme weather patterns, impacting vulnerable
   communities around the world.

Date: 3 July 2019