Water for Women’s Towards Transformation in gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI) WASH Continuum helps Fund partners to reflect on what a transformative approach to WASH programming looks like.

The categories from GEDSI unaware to GEDSI transformative are used for scoring in Water for Women’s Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Self-Assessment Tool developed together with the Sanitation Learning Hub. It encourages practitioners to reflect on, discuss and assess the status of their projects in relation to key domains of change in WASH programs: systems strengthening, universal access, empowerment and leadership,
knowledge and learning, and organisational culture and practice.

A colourful GEDSI in WASH continuum that progressed from GEDSI harmful/unaware, to GEDSI aware, to GEDSI responsive/accommodating and finally, GEDSI transformative

A GEDSI unaware program

  • Does not recognise the different roles, interests and power of women and men and other segments of the community.
  • Does not address barriers to participation in WASH processes, decision-making and benefits.
  • Will likely result in inequitable outcomes, as status quo and existing social inequalities are maintained.

A GEDSI harmful program

  • Recognises the different situations of different groups but does not take these into account.
  • Deliberately targets those who are easier to reach, hence further marginalising others.
  • May exploit differences to achieve program goals. 

A GEDSI aware program

  • Demonstrates basic recognition that different segments of the community have different roles, responsibilities, needs, interests, and access to resources and capacities.
  • Takes only minimal action to respond to these differences.
  • Inequalities are not specifically addressed, such as discriminatory social norms and the risk of violence.
  • Will likely focus more on practical needs (conditions) than strategic interests (position and power) of marginalised groups. 


A GEDSI responsive program

  • Recognises the importance of meaningful participation by and representation of women and marginalised groups.
  • Is based on a clear understanding of barriers faced by different marginalised groups and an intention to address these barriers at different levels - household, community, organisational and institutional.
  • Addresses both practical needs and strategic interests, supporting women, people with disabilities, people of diverse genders and sexualities, and marginalised groups to have increased access to and control over WASH resources.
  • May recognise biases and resistance to positive change towards equality, but GEDSI accommodating strategies may result in temporary results rather than deep, sustainable and structural change.


A GEDSI transformative program

  • Explicitly challenges harmful social norms and power imbalances to change the position of women, people with disabilities, people of diverse genders and sexualities and marginalised groups.
  • Seeks to support the voices of those with lived experience and understands the intersections between different oppressions.
  • Recognises violence as a barrier and as a risk related to challenging power, so takes a robust Do No Harm approach.
  • Understands bias, resistance and backlash and has nuanced approaches to address them.
  • Aims for inclusive, diverse and equal representation at all levels, with a strong focus on systems change
  • Includes GEDSI strategies that are appropriately resourced, including supporting local rights holder organisations.  
  • Reflects the principle of transformation starting with oneself. 


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