Women's role in sanitation decision making in rural coastal Odisha, India.

Routray, P; Torondel, B; Clasen, T; Schmidt, WP; (2017) Women's role in sanitation decision making in rural coastal Odisha, India. PLoS One, 12 (5). e0178042. ISSN 1932-6203 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178042

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While women and girls face special risks from lack of access to sanitation facilities, their ability to participate and influence household-level sanitation is not well understood. This paper examines the association between women's decision-making autonomy and latrine construction in rural areas of Odisha, India. We conducted a mixed-method study among rural households in Puri district. This included a cross sectional survey among 475 randomly selected households. These were classified as either having a functional latrine, a non-functional latrine or no latrine at all. We also conducted 17 in-depth interviews and 9 focus group discussions among household members of these three categories of households. Decisions on the construction of household level sanitation facilities were made exclusively by the male head in 80% of households; in 11% the decision was made by men who consulted or otherwise involved women. In only 9% of households the decision was made by women. Households where women were more involved in general decision making processes were no more likely to build a latrine, compared to households where they were excluded from decisions. Qualitative research revealed that women's non-involvement in sanitation decision making is attributed to their low socio-economic status and inability to influence the household's financial decisions. Female heads lacked confidence to take decisions independently, and were dependent on their spouse or other male family members for most decisions. The study revealed the existence of power hierarchies and dynamics within households, which constrained female's participation in decision-making processes regarding sanitation. Though governments and implementers emphasize women's involvement in sanitation programmes, socio-cultural factors and community and household level dynamics often prevent women from participating in sanitation-related decisions. Measures are needed for strengthening sanitation policies and effective implementation of programmes to address gender power relations and familial relationships that influence latrine adoption and use.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Disease Control
PubMed ID: 28542525
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/4189918


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