Ensuring Water Infrastructure Meets the Needs of All
While the challenges facing women across Southern Africa are diverse and stem from broader social structures, institutional issues and cultural nuances, there are common themes. For instance, there is often a disconnect between women and girls being the primary managers and users of water but typically having less decision-making power. They also tend to lack access to resources and finance and are disadvantaged due to high levels of illiteracy. The detrimental impacts of these ‘gender gaps’ are not only confined to women – they can also have negative repercussions for entire communities. Infrastructure projects that do not reflect the needs of women risk failure as women’s ability to utilise or benefit from the infrastructure is constrained. Moreover, initiatives that do not engage women early on may fail to capitalise on their indigenous knowledge and deep understanding of community dynamics.