Sanitation in developing countries: A review through a gender lens

Tilley, Elizabeth; Bieri, Sabin; Kohler, Petra (2013). Sanitation in developing countries: A review through a gender lens. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, 3(3), pp. 298-314. IWA Publishing 10.2166/washdev.2013.090

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

Sanitation has evolved from a purely technical discipline to one that includes social, environmental, economic and, increasingly, gender considerations. However, blurry notions of gender are frequently offered in the sanitation literature. Although it has been recognized that gender-responsive sanitation does not mean ‘toilets for women’, substantial alternatives are rarely debated. We structure our review of sanitation in developing countries along three lines: we start by fine-tuning the concept of gender both from the academic and the practitioner's perspective, analyse relevant developments in gender-specific policies and programming, and finally review the most appropriate toilet room and menstrual hygiene technologies. We argue that strategies to make technologies gender-responsive need to be based upon a thorough analysis of the social arrangements of the intimate, and how these are negotiated and institutionalized in a specific context. A lack of robust gender-segregated data on sanitation policies and technologies, along with reductionist framings of gender are to blame for limited progress in verifying the need for, and impact of, gender-responsive sanitation. Technology and policy development and implementation would benefit from gender-considerate interpretations of shame, dignity, safety and status. Further progress could be achieved by improving the translation process between different academic framings of the sanitation crisis. Keywords: appropriate technology; development; gender; menstrual hygiene management (MHM); sanitation

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)
09 Interdisciplinary Units > Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies (ICFG)

UniBE Contributor:

Bieri, Sabin, Kohler, Petra


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




IWA Publishing




Florian Huber

Date Deposited:

07 Aug 2014 15:32

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:36

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

appropriate technology, development, gender, menstrual hygiene management (MHM), sanitation


Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback