How can we improve Women enrolment and interest in WASH education opportunities?

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  • Chaiwe
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How can we improve Women enrollment and interest in WASH education opportunities?

Dear All,

The Water Supply and Sanitation Sector has continued to remain a male dominated sector. According to a 2020 World Bank report on Women in Water Utilities, only about one in five water employees and only 23% of licensed engineers are women and the same goes for female managers within utility companies . This trend is a challenge to the sector, and posses a great disadvantage to the sector in many ways, but especially in the area of inclusive sector programming. Cultural aspects have contributed to the way Women and Men view roles that are related to water and sanitation and how they participate.

There is need for the sector to work even harder at addressing the gender imbalance and encourage women participation at decision making and implementation levels. At household level, provision of hygiene and sanitation is often considered a Women's role (depending on your geographical location). Women are promoters, educators and drivers of household and community-based sanitation practices. In spite of this, the concerns of women are rarely addressed as societal barriers usually limit women’s involvement in decision making regarding toilets, sanitation programming and projects at higher level.

Research has indicated that, an important determinant of low female representation in the WSS sector and low representation of females in technical jobs is due to the low numbers of women attaining training in the WASH technical and vocational training and beyond. In order to encourage female enrollment and interest in WASH, there is need to increase the number of scholarships for women in Science, Technology, and Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) studies. Financial problems contribute to low female participation and high drop-out of students. The University of Zambia for example,(to mitigate this), is now sponsoring all its Masters in Sanitation female students through a donor grant in order to make this programme more attractive. Similar to Zambia, in Tanzania, a program by the World Bank aims to encourage the enrollment of female students at the Country’s Water Institute by allocating a larger percentage of sponsored student loans to women and girls:  See Here  

International exchange programs can also encourage female participation in WSS courses. International educational and cultural exchange program allow different people from around the world to experience the different and diverse educational systems, enhance their knowledge and skills, and explore other positive cultures and values.In Zambia , a newly established sector Skills Advisory Group (SAG) aims at bringing the water and sanitation employers, employees, and skills providers together to exchange knowledge on skills and labor market needs. Among some of the activities the SAG engages in to promote female participation includes giving awards to best performing females in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH, Plumbing and Electrical courses:  See Here 

The newly established African Women Sanitation Professionals Network- Zambia Chapter (AWSPN-ZC) advocates for enhancement of WASH skills for Women, in collaboration with the Technical Vocational Training Authorities. During the 2021 Zambia Water Forum and Exhibition (ZAWAFE), the women’s network held a mentorship session for female students pursuing water related courses. Read More Here 

Am curious to learn about what others are doing in the quest to improve the enrollment of women in WASH education and mentorship programs and arouse their interest in sector participation. Share your thoughts.

Regards,
Chaiwe 
SuSanA Forum Moderator
Skat Foundation (With financial support by GIZ from June 2021 to June 2023)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
Emails: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaiwe-mushauko-sanderse-21709129/
Twitter: @ChaiweSanderse

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  • FabianSuter
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Re: How can we improve Women enrollment and interest in WASH education opportunities?

Dear Chaiwe

Thanks for sharing the resources and launching the exchange about this topic on SuSanA. While searching for ideas and best practices on how to increase enrollment and completion rates of women in our MOOCs series "Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development" ( www.eawag.ch/mooc ), my colleague Laura Baquedano has found the FOSTWOM website ( fostwom.eu/ ) which aims at promoting full & equal access for girls and women in STEM. The website includes for example this useful gender-balance checklist for STEM MOOC creators https://tinyurl.com/yzek7utp .

Best regards,
Fabian
Fabian Suter
Digital learning manager
Sandec /Eawag
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  • Chaiwe
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Re: How can we improve Women enrolment and interest in WASH education opportunities?

While we are on the subject of Women's enrolment in WASH education opportunities, I thought I should share this inspiring story with everyone:

The University of Zambia (UNZA) recently introduced a Masters in Sanitation programme that saw the enrolment of a little over 20 students in the programme (mostly male). Generally in Zambia, master's level programmes and beyond receive the most enrolments from working professionals looking to improve their qualifications, despite facing time constraints and the pressure of demanding jobs. The second year of the programme offers some flexibility on execution time, as students embark on their thesis research which can often take months to complete depending on the intensity and nature of the research subject. The successful completion of one's thesis sees them graduating with the first cohort of graduates across various disciplines or otherwise they join the second cohort months later. This year despite the challenges of a full-time job and a family to support, the first-ever graduate from the newly introduced Masters in Sanitation Programme to graduate within the first Cohort was  Joyce Siame (a female student).
Joyce, an Environmental Health Technician with over  9 years of work experience in the field of environmental health (including teaching environmental health-related courses at a tertiary level) gives a short account of her journey to becoming the first and only graduate (currently) in this Masters in Sanitation Programme at UNZA. 

What made me pursue a master’s degree in sanitation?
As an Environmental health personnel working in a rural setting of Zambia, my work mostly involves conducting assessments, controlling and prevention of adverse situations that affect the environment and may negatively affect the health status of the general public. In order to achieve this, I consider the aspect of sanitation to be key.  I consider SANITATION to be key in effectively achieving the goals of environmental health. I was excited when I saw the advert on social media (WhatsApp) that the University of Zambia had introduced a Sanitation program at post graduate level. This is what made me apply for the Masters in Sanitation as a first cohort student.

My passion for my country Zambia is to ensure effectiveness in the prevention of transmissible Infections/diseases which can be prevented through practicing appropriate sanitation. Hence, my interest to carry out research for my Thesis on “determinants of hand hygiene behaviour during the covid-19  pandemic among traders at new Soweto Market in Lusaka District”. Note: SDGs cannot be achieved without Sanitation.

How did i emerge as the first graduate in this Masters in Sanitation programme?                    
Commitment and determination to completing academic tasks on time and ability to conduct research within the allocated time



It is always great to get an account of motivation from the Women themselves. This in turn inspires young people and fellow Women to take up related programmes. Congratulations Joyce!! We look forward to hearing about the impact you will certainly make within the Environmental Health space with your added knowledge and qualification in Sanitation.

Kind Regards,
Chaiwe
SuSanA Forum Moderator
Skat Foundation (With financial support by GIZ from June 2021 to June 2023)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
Emails: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaiwe-mushauko-sanderse-21709129/
Twitter: @ChaiweSanderse

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  • Mofwe
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Re: How can we improve Women enrolment and interest in WASH education opportunities?

Hi Chaiwe,

Concerning the MSc in Sanitation at the University of Zambia, I am teaching on the programme and we now have our third cohort. For this year's cohort, we have more women enrolled (9) compared to men (7), which is very encouraging in terms of WASH education opportunities for women. The programme is running online with evening sessions, thus we have students from beyond the capital Lusaka; offering students the flexibility of work and school.

Regards,

Mofwe 
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