BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
ABOUT 35 participants from organisations working in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector in Solomon Islands came together for a three-day Gender and WASH workshop that started in Honiara on October 30.
This workshop is jointly organised by UNICEF, RWASH and CARE. The workshop emerges from the recommendations made from a study of the gender and WASH issues in Solomon Islands.
The study was conducted by UNCIEF with the help of CARE International and involved a review of present WASH policy environment, programme implementation and practices on the ground.
This gender assessment of the rural WASH sector was done, with the intention of understanding, and improving, gender and social inclusion in rural WASH programming in the country.
The study was designed to identify and understand WASH-related gender disparities in WASH.
The Under Secretary of Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr Nemia Bainivalu opened the workshop for the participants.
Speaking at the occasion, he said that Gender is imperative to achieving WASH results, and there is a need to continually modify and improve policies and practices around involving women.
“This training is important to build our collective understanding on ‘how’ we engage women ‘what’ needs to be done to get women into WASH decision making.”
Ms Mamita Bora Thakkar, WASH Specialist, UNICEF emphasised that ‘Gender’ is not an option or not a choice any more.
“We need to ensure that women become a part of all decision making around WASH, especially in communities, to achieve sustainable WASH outcomes.
“However, the capacity to do so is limited, because of poor understanding of women’s needs and perspectives,” she mentioned.
This workshop is focussed on building WASH sector capacity to address gendered barriers to achieving equal outcomes for women, men, boys’, and girls’ in WASH programmes.