Plumbing poverty, plumbing violence: water security, gender based violence, and SDG 6
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Department of Geography & Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Canada
Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Canada
Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A936
This paper asserts achieving health and wellbeing for all by 2030 (SDG 3) is not possible without first attaining universal access to safe water and adequate sanitation (SDG 6) and neither is possible without SDG 5 (empowering women). Access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) is recognized as an important pathway to health and wellbeing. Despite progress made in Low-and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), inequities exist across space and place. Furthermore, inequalities in WaSH access heighten women’s vulnerability to violence when meeting their WaSH needs. Several methods were used to address this research problem (international document review; systematic literature review; in-depth interviews with immigrants to Canada from Ghana - one of the poorest and water stressed areas of sub-Saharan Africa - to explore perceptions of WaSH experiences over the lifecourse). The policy review revealed virtually no mentions of protection of women and girls from GBV in the context of water security. The systematic review of the literature informed a taxonomy of four types of GBV related to water security: physical, sexual, psychosocial and structural. The interview Results revealed participants’ perceptions and experiences of water-related GBV are socially and context-dependent, organized around the four dimensions of water-related violence. These dimensions are not mutually exclusive and are experienced through multiple scales of gender and power relations from the household to the community level. These relationalities are important determinants of WaSH inequities and influence the extent to which women’s bodies are subjected to violence or protected from it. Expressions of violence in the search for adequate WASH represents a significant barrier to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The global community of WaSH practitioners, policymakers, and public health actors has yet to adequately address women’s vulnerability; there is much work to be done across all spatial scales, from the local to the global.