No one left behind: WASH and climate action for SGM communities

A female Solomon Islands teacher sits in a classroom with her back to the blackboard and smiling at the camera


On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), the theme of "No One Left Behind" highlights a crucial issue: the urgent need for inclusion of Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) communities in access to basic WASH services and in building climate resilience for all.  


In some of the world's most climate-vulnerable countries, SGM communities face severe discrimination. This isolates them and makes it difficult to meet basic needs. Excluded from decision-making processes and pushed to the margins of society, they often lack access to essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, leaving them disproportionately vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.


Building a More Inclusive Future 

Water for Women stands firmly with SGM communities. We believe their voices are essential for crafting effective solutions. By working alongside SGM Rights Holder Organisations (RHOs), we ensure a human rights-based approach. We co-create solutions with, not for, SGM communities, prioritising their safety and dignity – upholding the "Do No Harm" principle.

WASH organisations have the power to be transformative, but they must work with sensitivity and competence to work effectively with SGM communities. Partnering with local SGM organisations is crucial for achieving this.


SGM Resilience Builds Community Resilience

This IDAHOBIT we are sharing stories and insights that celebrate the resilience, strengths, and diversity of SGM communities across Asia and the Pacific. From menstrual health initiatives, participatory filmmaking, and life-skills programs, these initiatives underscore the importance of meaningful inclusivity, ensuring that everyone has access to essential resources and a voice in shaping a more just and sustainable future.

We are also thrilled to launch "Our Resilience Builds Community Resilience," a learning brief co-authored with leading human rights and LGBTIQ+ research group Edge Effect. Drawing on insights from partners across Asia and the Pacific, this powerful guide equips climate-focused and WASH organisations with impactful approaches to SGM inclusion.

Water for Women hopes that this publication represents a significant step forward in the inclusion of SGM communities in climate-resilient WASH programming, recognising that true climate resilience is only possible when everyone is included.


A transgender woman smiles in front of a busy street in Pakistan

Our Resilience Builds Community Resilience: Transformative Approaches for Sexual and Gender Minority Inclusion in Climate-Resilient WASH

Across Asia and the Pacific, SGM communities face violence, discrimination and marginalisation in everyday life – meaning they are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and face unique challenges in regard to WASH. Drawing upon examples of work undertaken across Water for Women, this learning brief highlights transformative and strengths-based approaches to the inclusion of SGMs within WASH and climate resilience-related work. It can help WASH practitioners to improve inclusion of SGM groups for greater community resilience.

Insights from our partners on SGM inclusion

Water for Women partners have important stories to tell and insights to share about their engagement with SGM organisations and leaders, and how this has made a critical difference not only to the lives of SGM people but also to the WASH programs being delivered in communities. 


Explore stories of SGM inclusion below



Transgender woman addresses the forum with speakers seated behind her

Overcoming Invisibility: Promoting Menstrual Health Equity for Jaipur's Transgender Men

Menstrual health management (MHM) remains a global challenge, but for transgender men, the fight for access and dignity takes on a whole new level of complexity. CFAR is working in Jaipur, India, to overcome this invisibility by promoting menstrual health equity for Jaipur's transgender men.

A group of transgender women smile at a workshop held by the IRC in Pakistan

Including the Excluded: Building Climate Resilience with the SGM Community in Pakistan

In Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the transgender community confronts a multitude of challenges, exacerbated by the looming threat of climate change. Learn how the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is taking the lead in empowering sexual and gender minority (SGM) communities, recognising their resilience and potential as agents of positive change.


A group of transgender women walk through a busy town street in Indonesia

Finding Their Voice: Participatory action research empowers Indonesian Transgender community

The SGM community in Indonesia confronts deep-seated discrimination and intolerance, leading to pervasive social exclusion. Consequently, they face compounded challenges, including limited access to essential resources like water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), leaving them disproportionately vulnerable to climate change. To meaningfully address this challenge, Plan International Australia (PIA) engaged Edge Effect and Arus Pelangi to create a groundbreaking participatory initiative with the local transgender population in Rutteng, Indonesia.



May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). This year's theme, "No One Left Behind: Equality, Freedom, and Justice for All," emphasises the urgent need for inclusion.

For sexual and gender minority (SGM) communities, access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services remains a significant challenge. This marginalisation extends to climate change preparedness, where SGM individuals face heightened vulnerability due to discrimination and lack of resources.

Water for Women stands firmly with SGM communities this IDAHOBIT and beyond. We recognise the importance of SGM voices in shaping solutions. Consulting with SGM rights holder organisations (RHOs) is critical; this ensures rights-based approaches, where solutions are created with SGM communities, not for them. This strengthens the "Do No Harm" principle by prioritising SGM safety and dignity.

WASH organisations must work with sensitivity and competency. SGM RHOs play a vital role in building this understanding and ensuring WASH services are truly inclusive. Development actors must also do their part. Enhancing their understanding of SGM identities within specific contexts is crucial, and partnering with local SGM organisations is key to achieving this.

Together, let's advocate for a future where everyone can access safe WASH services and build resilience to climate change. Let's commit to leave no one behind - to ensure equality, freedom and justice for all.


Header photo: Former GEDSCI officer of IRC Pakistan, working to ensure inclusivity for SGM communities. (IRC Pakistan/ Saima Javed)

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