Stepping Up: Ensuring sexual and gender minorities are not left behind


The Water for Women Fund gender and social inclusion (GSI) framework includes sexual and gender minority (SGM) inclusion, alongside inclusion of people with disabilities and more conventional approaches to gender inclusion. The UN Human Rights Council recognises sexual orientation and gender identity as characteristics of rights holders, and the deep impact of violence and exclusion: “The combination of social prejudice and criminalization has the effect of marginalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender non-conforming persons and excluding them from essential services, including health, education, employment, housing and access to justice. The spiral of discrimination, marginalization and exclusion may start within the family, extend to the community and have a life-long effect on socioeconomic inclusion.” 

Specifically on WASH, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation has also highlighted issues including “access to sanitation, menstrual hygiene and toilets for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people and an increased risk of gender based violence.” 

The inclusion of SGM considerations within approximately one-third of country programs (and some research programs) provides an opportunity for development of policy and good practice for SGM inclusion in WASH.

This Learning Brief, 'Stepping Up: Ensuring sexual and gender minorities are not left behind' aims to advance the Fund’s collective learning on SGM issues and inclusion by reflecting on the discussions throughout the Systems Strengthening for Inclusive WASH learning event held in December 2019 in Nepal.

This Learning Brief was authored by Emily Dwyer of Edge Effect, Sexual and Gender Minority Inclusion Adviser to the Water for Women Fund. Thanks to Meera Parida (SAKHA), Soumya Mishra (CFAR), Sitara Zeb (IRC) and David Clatworthy (IRC), Plan International, and Joanna Mott and Kate Orr from the Fund Coordinator for their contributions to this Brief.


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