Making progress towards inclusive sanitation and hygiene for sexual and gender minorities. by Alice Webb, Sanitation Learning Hub, December 2020.
As we move closer to the 2030 target for sustainable and safely managed sanitation and hygiene for all, it feels like we’re starting to make progress on including certain groups of people in our work. We’ve seen an enormous effort to break down taboos and stigma, with growing awareness of sanitation issues relating to menstrual health and hygiene, disability, sanitation workers and most recently for us, people who experience incontinence.
While we continue those valuable conversations, it is time now to think about who we’re not talking about enough, about who is in danger of being left behind in the drive for sanitation and hygiene for all. It seems we have a long way to go, in terms of including, among other groups, sexual and gender minorities in our work on sanitation and hygiene.
It is, no doubt, a challenging topic to address. In 13 countries, it’s against the law to be transgender, including countries where we, at SLH, are currently working or have worked in the past. Elsewhere, sexual and gender minorities face harassment, violence and ridicule when accessing toilets. Here in the UK, we have a long way to go, at both cultural and institutional levels.
Bearing this in mind, programming needs to be extra vigilant for potential safeguarding issues and follow ‘do no harm’ principles very carefully. In addition, we need to bear in mind we’re talking about individuals who may experience intersectional discrimination due to characteristics such as race, class, disability and refugee status. We also need to consider the diversity of identities within sexual and gender minorities, who may face different challenges relating to their specific identity, (for example, intersex people can face non-consensual surgical procedures and unnecessary medical interventions).
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