It is a requirement in the One WASH National Programme that women are well represented and elected to serve as officers of WASHCOs (FDRE, 2013). Furthermore, it is stated that 50% of WASHCO members should be women in decision-making positions (Figure 5.4). Despite this national policy requirement, many WASHCOs have not achieved this target.
What reasons for the limited progress towards gender equality in WASHCOs can you think of?
There are several possible reasons including:
- The unequal power between men and women and assumed gender roles.
- Lower levels of literacy and education of women so they may need additional training in literacy or book keeping to be able to play a more significant role.
- Women do not feel empowered to challenge the system and put themselves forward.
Unlike the policy for women, there is no stated requirement to include persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups as members of WASHCOs. The criteria for establishing WASHCOs should be revised to explicitly include these groups. However, changing policy in this way is not quick or easy, and would need concerted effort by key stakeholders at national and lower levels, as well as increased awareness and changed attitudes among community members.