Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!


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  • jjsanchez
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Hi Everyone,

Great to read your introductions! Thanks for sharing.

I'm a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. My research is similar to Sophie's - I'm also looking at the relationship between enteropathogen infection and growth faltering in young children by developing causal pathways of these infections from household factors (primarily WASH). I'm specifically looking at children in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

I'm new here on the forum and look forward to contributing to the discussion!

Best wishes,

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  • secretariat
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  • SuSanA secretariat currently allocates 2 full time person equivalents of time from members of GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Team: Arne Panesar, Alexandra Dubois, Maren Heuvels, Teresa Häberlein, Daphne Manolakos and one intern.
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Dear all,

great, to read these posts about your work in the sector, thank you for sharing!

We would like to include this thread in the upcoming SuSanA news mail and make a collage from all the profile pics. If you have any objections against the use of your profile picture in the newsmail kindly let us know in the course of this week, no problem.

Best wishes from the secretariat,
Franziska Volk
Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sector Program Water Policy – Innovations for Resilience
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Bonn, Germany
Follow us on facebook: www.facebook.com/susana.org , linkedin: www.linkedin.com/company/sustainable-sanitation-alliance-susana and twitter: twitter.com/susana_org

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  • conniebenjamin
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Thanks so much to all those who posted! Great to meet you all and hear your stories.

This thread will remain open if others wish to continue to add their own introductions!
Connie Benjamin

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  • BelindaA
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  • Belinda Abraham
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Hello! I am Belinda Abraham. I have been working in the sector of WASH for nearly 20 years! I have worked primarily with UNICEF in sub-Sahara Africa and Asia. I am currently living in Vietnam and consulting. My work in water and sanitation is a personal resolution as a women and a mother to work to make things better.

Here's why!

I have heard said that the ‘sector of WASH found me, as much as I found the sector.’ This is very true in my case. In 1998, I was working with a Canadian NGO in Malawi. I was hired to be the in-country desk officer for the projects funded primarily by the Canadian government. Having had a prolonged drought in Malawi, one of the funded projects had a component of water and sanitation, i.e. WatSan. The national officer hired for the project was primarily and passionately an agriculturalist and nutritionist, so in time the water and sanitation components lagged behind. Realising this, the country director tasked me to oversee the WatSan components. As a young development professional then, I took on the challenge happily of finding ways to convince households to implement Peter Morgan’s arboloos or Bjorn Brandberg’s sandplats. We dealt with collapsing pits and sandy soils as well as hard underlying rock. Professionally, I found it satisfying work with nice balance of challenges. However, what has kept me committed to the sector, resulted from a very personal experience in Malawi.

As I was wrapping up my contract in July 6th 2000 on Malawi’s Independence Day, I heard a knock on the door. It was a wife of the security guard next door. She requested a ride to the hospital because she was not well, or at least that is what I understood from her broken English and my equally poor comprehension of Chichewa. I knew that she was pregnant but did not know her due date. I agreed immediately to take her to the city hospital a few kilometers away. No sooner had we passed the Chilumbula round-about, she let out a heavy sigh and to my dismay and shock, in her hands - between her legs came a newborn baby. My shock that a baby had been born in my car, soon turned into distress as I screamed and navigated my way through the holiday traffic to the hospital. We arrived in time for the nurses to complete the after-birth and confirm that Baby Belinda, my new namesake, was fine.

At this point, the story should have a happy ending. Unfortunately, Malawi like many sub-Sahara countries had perhaps one of the highest child morbidity and mortality rates and some of the lowest coverage for water and sanitation. For baby Belinda’s mother, the story turns tragic. After her husband lost job as a security guard in Lilongwe, they returned to the rural village in the north. Ironically in the same district, I had over two years ago been tasked to implement water and sanitation initiatives. Within year, I was informed, sadly baby Belinda passed away. While her family maintained it was evil spirits, others confessed and knew she suffered chronic diarrhea for weeks and had limited access to medical services. Their village had very shallow wells and low sanitation coverage.

The tragedy of baby Belinda’s short life, represented to me a renewed drive and attention for WASH. I ended up staying longer in Malawi subsequently another four years and dedicated my work to WASH programming in the very district in which she lived and died.

Her story is nothing new but for me as a women and now a mother provided the greatest professional and personal motivation to work in WASH. Globally, it is women who still bear the burden of fetching water, cooking meals, cleaning house, caring for sick and young children and the myriad of domestic activities. With still limited rights for full participation, decision-making and with risks to safety and security, WASH has a greater effect on women. As women working in WASH, I think we have an obligation and a solidarity to see that this situation changes for all.

International Women’s Day provides a chance for us to renew our purpose and strengthen our determination to work for this goal.
Belinda Abraham

Hanoi, Vietnam
+84 (0)1685580482
skype: Belinda.Abraham2

Recently joined as of May 2018, East Meets West (EMW)/ Thrive Network as Country Director/ Regional Program Director based in Viet Nam. New programming areas: WASH- PPP's, social enterprises, FSM and School WASH (WiNs) with a focus in South East Asia.

Career profile: WASH Specialist, over 15 years in Eastern and Southern Africa, South East Asia, primarily working for UNICEF.
Key areas of interest: WASH in Schools, WASH Communication and Community-based Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion
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  • Elisabeth
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  • Freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager at GIZ and SuSanA secretariat, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Hi there,

Lovely to read from all of you and I look forward to reading more posts of women here on the forum, also by those who haven't posted much in the past yet (don't be shy).

I've been in the WASH sector since about 2005. I completed my PhD in conventional wastewater treatment (biological nutrient removel) in the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Queenland in Brisbane in 1998. I have recently returned to this lovely green town with my family to spend a few years here.

I started my WASH journey in the field of ecosan and teaching at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, then moved to GIZ where I found my new love, SuSanA, whose secretariat I led from 2008 to 2012. I left GIZ in 2012 to become a freelancer. SEI has been my most important client (working with Arno Rosemarin has been the best thing that ever happened to me!). They fund my work as a community manager of this forum via a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for which I am really grateful. It has enabled me to work on what I enjoy doing and even get paid for it (this includes Wikipedia editing). A link to the grant is provided in my signature below.

When it comes to women in the WASH sector, I think we have come a long way for making it easier for women to be successful in the workforce and to rise to positions of power and influence. But I think it's still fairly hard once you become a mother. Not many fathers are willing to sacrifice career time in the same way as many mothers feel they need to, or want to, do. I can see it with myself, we now have 4 children and it's always a struggle between time at the laptop and time with the kids (both of which I enjoy).

In Germany many women who have been to university remain childless for this reason (i.e. too hard to combine career and family), which is a pity as many of them would probably have made awesome mothers and would have loved to have children. (for some it might have been a happy decision not to have children, too; actually with overpopulation being such a big global problem we should be grateful towards anyone who chooses not to have kids).

Another thing that irks me is how we have much lower participation in online fora by women. Even though women are said to be chatty (??), they don't seem to pop up that much on discussion forums. This forum is the same! You can see for yourself if you scroll down and look at "who has been active lately". Usually 8 out of the 10 people listed are males. This week we have a better balance thanks to this forum thread, see here:

Is it because women are more shy online? More careful what they say or share? Or they have less "spare time"? Do they also speak up less in conventional meetings, i.e. not just in the online context?

It is even worse amongst Wikipedia editors. It's been found that "Wikimedia editors are overwhelmingly men (90 percent)" (Source: medium.com/freely-sharing-the-sum-of-all...commons-44b20d0a9618 )
This is bad news as Wikipedia editors write about what they care about - so men would write about different topics than women which can therefore lead to bias on Wikipedia.

Therefore, I encourage all female SuSanA members to see if you can have more of an online presence and if that could benefit your careers but also other women in the sector. No need for the men to post less (thank you for all your contributions on this discussion forum and on Wikipedia), but the ladies need to post more, and edit Wikipedia more, in my opinion!

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Freelance consultant on environmental and climate projects
Located in Ulm, Germany
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My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/elisabethvonmuench/
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  • Doreen
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Dear All,

My name is Doreen Mbalo and I work at the GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Programme which hosts the SuSanA secretariat in Bonn. Before that, I worked for 5 years in the Kenya GIZ Water Sector Reform Programme focussing on the UBSUP programme.
UBSUP is a programme anchored at the Water Sector Trust Fund and focusses on scaling up urban sanitation in low income urban areas.

In my role, I have meet so many brilliant women in the sector who inspire and continously motivate me. Though women and girls are disproportionately impacted by water and sanitation, they are a critical part of the solution.
I look forward to having more women particularly from my home continent taking leadership roles in our sector.

Best regards,

Doreen Mbalo

GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Programme
Policy Advisor in Bonn, Germany
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
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  • inajurga
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  • International Coordinator Menstrual Hygiene Day / Head of Education, WASH United
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Hallo amazing women in WASH & dear male readers, too!

My name is Ina Jurga and since 6 years I work with WASH United on play-based WASH behaviour change interventions with youth and campaigns involving football, cricket and religious leaders.
My passion project however is MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY ( www.menstrualhygieneday.org ), celebrated since 2014 on 28 May, which was initiated by us and for which I am acting as International Coordinator.

In this role, I met so many fantastic women in WASH and education and health, some of you already introduced themselves here!
My biggest inspiration and motivation comes from the many women and girls that I meet when going to the field, for whom WASH is not their profession, but their daily lifes' commitment to achieve better health and dignity and life opportunities for themselves, but also for their family and their community.
International Coordinator Menstrual Hygiene Day
WASH United
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  • sbudge2017
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  • PhD BabyWASH and Nutrition in Ethiopia with Cranfield University & People in Need
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Hello wonderful women!

I am Sophie, a PhD researcher at Cranfield University in the School of Water, Energy and Environment.
I am a nutritionist and demographer by background, and have spent time working abroad across the developing world on research relating to nutritional status and growth in children. My PhD research is alongside the Czech NGO, People in Need, and I am trying to better understand the links between poor WASH (mainly sanitation) and chronic exposure to pathogens in infants contributes to growth faltering, or stunting, in Ethiopia. It's a subject I'm hugely passionate about, and I'm pleased and grateful to be working with two brilliant, knowledgeable women who are my supervisor and sponsor (as well as my other supervisor who IS a man *but* also great!!)
I'm on twitter @Sophie_Budge - please connect, I'd love to hear from you and keep this energy and dynamism going.

So much brilliant work going on here ladies.
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  • madeleine
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  • Sanitation is dignity and life. Through living and working 15 years in (Mozambique) where Cholera is endemic, the importance of sanitation became evident, furthermore it is clear that sanitation is more than an infrastructure
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Hi all
My name is Madeleine and I have been on the forum from the start however I have not been so active the last few years since I do not dedicate all my time to sanitation any longer unfortunately. However I do keep up with some activities and I usually try to organize the SuSanA meeting in Stockholm so that many of us can meet in IRL.
I am very exited this week since I am getting prepared to participate in the 25th SuSanA meeting in Brazil. It will be my second SuSAnA meeting in Brazil and I am thrilled over to go back there to learn with all my Latin American colleagues. Development in WASH goes fast in Latin America and there are many exiting inclusive sanitation systems, water saving technologies etc to learn from. There has always been some kind of language barrier to enable us to enhance the knowledge exchange efficiently. Hopefully we can overcome this with a SuSanA chapter for Latin America . We will outline how such a chapter would work while I am in Brasilia .It is really amazing what the SuSAnA chapter in India has achieved likewise the Mena chapter.
I hope I will meet some of you there at the meeting and catch up with ideas and knowledge. After Brasilia I will go to Bolivia and prepare new collaboration with organizations who are doing an amazing work with sustainable sanitation systems . I have been following the development in Bolivia since 2007 and I am so impressed by the work of organizations like Agua Tuya and Sumaj Huasi. What is my specific field in Sanitation ? Well if you have not guessed by now, it is knowledge sharing and capacity development . I have also a very special interest and knowledge in the tough issues those that relates with people using our fantastic systems . I have worked many year with trying to establish system that will support communities to solve their WASH problems, operate and maintain their system . And one more work stream that I care a lot about make me recall 2012 I participate in the first UN high level meeting on Menstrual Management in Geneva on March 8th it was a fantastic celebration and manifestation of the women´s day. The high level meeting was it the first of its kind. We were not so many engaged in this MHM at that time but we all brought forward convincing evidence on a neglected or practically unknown topic while the rest of the audience was giggling and embarrassed . The message was clear and loud and we broke the taboo! Now 6 years later the world has totally changed and the girls and their specific need are in the center of school sanitation interventions etc . wsscc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Cel...80%93-WSSCC-2013.pdf
Madeleine Fogde
Program Director SIANI
Senior Project Manager at SEI
Tel +46 (0)8 6747652
Fax + 46 (0)8 6747020
Cell + 46 737078576
SKYPE mfogde71811
Kräftriket 2B
SE-10691 Stockholm
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  • DaniBarrington
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Hi everyone!

I'm a Lecturer in Water, Sanitation and Health at the University of Leeds. My role includes teaching on our Master of WASH Engineering, supervising students and conducting research. I'm very passionate about research methods that involve communities and local staff in defining research questions and actions to improve wellbeing. Most of my practical experience has been in Melanesia and South Asia.

I love talking to people about anything WASH related, so feel free to message me on Twitter anytime: @Dani_Barrington
Dani Barrington, PhD, BE (Hons), BSc

Lecturer in Global Health
The University of Western Australia
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  • ktesh
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

Hello from Atlanta!

My name is Kelly and I love working in sanitation on the CARE Water+ team. We are always interested in learning and sharing about the failures and successes of us and others - whether programmatic, or research findings.

I just got back from a month in the Solomon Islands learning about water and sanitation access, use, safety and comfort for males vs. females. Fascinating stuff! Look for more info on that soon!

Thanks to all the ladies out there who love talking about shit and periods.

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  • nadia
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Re: Women in sanitation let’s meet each other this International Women’s Day!

I am Nadia Andreev from WiSDOM association in Moldova. I am also working as a researcher in the Laboratory of Hydrobiology and Ecotoxicology, Institute of Zoology, Moldova.

My interest in sanitation is to promote decentralized solutions for rural areas that will benefit people livelihood and reduce the impact on the environment. I am interested particularly in reuse of wastewater and sanitation products from ecological sanitation facilities. I believe this would benefit the welfare of rural communities, including women. For example, applying sanitation products for growing willow would be a good solution for bringing both financial and environmental benefits. Women, particularly elderly women have very limited income in Moldova, thus growing willow either at home or at a communal plantation for restoring eroded land or for artisan activities could be potential source of income. Willow is also efficient in removing nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater and source separated urine and faeces and thus contribute to the implementation of SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation. Willow is also a promising tree for the mitigation of degraded landscape and reduces the risks of erosion. The use of willow cuttings for spilling live structures can stabilize eroded slopes and also reduce the severity of the flow of storm water during the heavy rains which are becoming more frequent with the impact from climate change.

I wish all women active in sanitation a Happy Women's Day!
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