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Gender and WASH monitoring tool

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D. Elkington
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Plan Vietnam and Plan Australia have been piloting a participatory Gender and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Monitoring Tool (GWMT) since 2011, after staff recognised the gaps and challenges of measuring progress towards gender equality in WASH projects. Developed and revised over two successive trials held in ethnically diverse communities in central Vietnam, the GWMT enables local staff and government partners to explore and monitor gender relations in the implementation of WASH related activities. The tool aims to raise community awareness and promote aspirations for gender equality within communities, as well as develop the understanding of gender analysis and practical skills of practitioners. The GWMT is not designed to be a stand-alone tool for the monitoring of gender issues in WASH. Rather, it should be seen as one tool that can contribute to an interventions overall approach. The tool builds upon four key principles: facilitate participation and inclusion; focus on how decisions are made; see, understand and value different skills and concerns; and create opportunities for women and men to experience and share new roles and responsibilities. Four key indicators are used that are based on the aforementioned principles. Data is disaggregated not only by sex, but also by age, with ‘young’, middle-age’, and ‘older’ sub-groups. The four indicators are the:

Level of shared WASH workload in the household
Level of participation in WASH activities in the community
Level of shared WASH decision-making in the household
Level of women’s leadership in the community around WASH The tool itself is comprised of nine steps.

Steps one through seven are a series of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) activities and discussions within a community setting. Steps eight and nine are undertaken by WASH facilitators to reflect, analyse, record, and share findings. Some of the key lessons that have emerged from the process include that:

It is vital to invest in, and nurture, explicit commitments made to improving gender equality within an organisation’s practice.
There has been a positive response from local government in their willingness to learn and improve their practice.
Gender champions are good enablers, and can work at multiple levels including community, government, and organisational.
It is important to take local contexts into account, e.g. the introduction of picture cards to account for the low literacy levels of participants.
Collating results to de-identify individuals views within the group, among other ideas, should be considered to provide a safe space for everyone's views to be heard.