Monash University and Emory University

(Type 1) Research: WRA1023

Research Focus: Development of a toolkit for the intersectional and gender-inclusive co-design of water-sensitive solutions for urban informal settlements

Location: Indonesia and Fiji 

Research Theme: Gender and social inclusion in WASH

Partners: Universitas Hasanuddin and University of the South Pacific

Key Research Questions:

To what extent is an intersectional gender and socially inclusive co-design approach to WASH effective in engaging and addressing the needs of diverse women and girls and improving their lives?

(i)    How and to what degree does the co-design process meaningfully engage a diverse range of women and girls? 

(ii)   To what extent and how were diverse women and girls’ inputs incorporated into the concept design of the infrastructure intervention?

(iii)  Are diverse women and girls in intervention communities satisfied with the process and infrastructure outcome of the co-design? 

(iv)  What impact did engagement in the co-design process have on diverse women and girls’ leadership self-efficacy, safety and inclusion?

Research Description: 

Historically, WASH programs have been criticised for being gender-blind, meaning that they largely ignore gender norms in favour of a one-size-fits-all approach to providing WASH facilities.

There is increasing awareness of the need for more gender-sensitive approaches based on different biological and social needs of women and men. Monash University, Emory University, Universitas Hasanuddin and University of the South Pacific are partnering to produce evidence that will lead to more socially inclusive WASH approaches.

There is increasing awareness of the need for more gender-sensitive and socially inclusive approaches to WASH programming, based on different biological and social needs of women and men.

Monash University, Emory University, Universitas Hasanuddin in Indonesia and the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, are generating critical evidence around the roles, needs and priorities of diverse community members when designing water and sanitation infrastructure.

The research is a sub-study within the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) program – an action-research program operating in 24 urban informal settlements in Indonesia and Fiji. Designing with communities, RISE is integrating green infrastructure, like wetlands and bio-filtration gardens, into the settlements, to improve access to essential water and sanitation and transform health and wellbeing.

Our research looks into whether RISE’s intersectional and gender-inclusive co-design process has built social capital among diverse men and women in intervention communities. And further, whether these social resources could in fact dampen the negative impacts of a pandemic on communities.

 

“We have an opportunity to better understand who in a community nature-based solutions are working for, to ultimately help improve access to the social and health benefits these solutions offer”.

Dr Becky Batagol, Associate Professor, Monash Law and Monash Sustainable Development Institute

 

RISE’s green infrastructure and its unique co-design process has the vast potential to improve the lives of the one billion people living in urban informal settlements. We are providing evidence and a toolkit on how to meaningfully engage women, men and children, including those with a disability and other vulnerabilities, in order for this potential to be achieved.

 

“The strength of this research is the transdisciplinary knowledge and experience in water, gender equality and design. By documenting and codifying empirical knowledge on the needs and priorities of women and girls during co-design, this research could reshape urban water and sanitation interventions”.

Dr Sheela Sinharoy, Assistant Professor, Emory Rollins School of Public Health

 

We expect this research to:

  1. Provide data on how to meaningfully engage women, men and children during co-design, including those with a disability and other vulnerabilities;
  2. Contribute to an understanding of able-bodied, disabled and vulnerable women and girls’ perceptions of the co-design process, and the resulting green infrastructure solutions at a household and neighbourhood scale; and
  3. Help generate more comprehensive evidence on the effects of co-design as a process that may well go beyond WASH-specific benefits (e.g. increased women’s leadership, self-efficacy, inclusion and safety).

 

Water for Women is proud to be partnering with Monash University, Emory University, Universitas Hasanuddin and the University of the South Pacific in this important research work.

 

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