Inclusive WASH Facilities: Streamlining the implementation of gender policy and the use of gender guidelines

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Civil Engineering


The aim of this PhD is to understand what factors determine how we implement and enforce gender policy and gender guidelines to ensure inclusive sanitation design. The project will look at how historic sexism has shaped sanitation design, and will seek to review gender guidelines that have been created to tackle this issue, as well as the design of a conceptual model to ground policy and guidelines in that ensures more successful uptake and usage.
Currently we know there are countless sanitation facilities that have been designed without gender in mind. Examples include toilets without menstrual hygiene disposal options, or facilities without lights and locks. We also know there exists many guideline documents that seek to solve these issues, yet the issues persist. By understanding what these guidelines say and how they are used we can begin to understand the cause of poor uptake: is it purely a lack of funding, or deeper rooted in society?
I will also carry out a Global review of Gender Policy to see where people are beginning to take notice and action on behalf of mainstreaming gender into decision making. This will then show where should have more inclusively designed facilities. Using prior studies that document sanitation facilities I will be able to assess if the policies have indeed led to better design, or if a lack of enforcement has rendered the new policies unused.
Using the knowledge from these two tasks, and further research on external factors that affect policy uptake and guidelines usage I will be able to create a model that recognises and explains what external societal factors effect policy and guideline usage. In time this will then lead to better policy implementation, and smoother guideline usage, resulting in increased design rates of inclusive sanitation facilities.
The project therefore fits directly into two of the EPSRC themes. The project at heart is about the design of inclusive sanitation facilities, so is about 'infrastructure and urban systems' in Engineering, and ensuring high quality inclusive design is achieved. It also fits into the theme of 'manufacturing the future'. The challenge that I am aiming to tackle in response to how to improve the future is gender equality. Sanitation that is not inclusive and does not consider gender is both a health and hygiene risk as well as a safety and security risk. My project will have a global focus, gender inequality is not something that purely effects those in lower income economies, it is systemic in patriarchal societies. Therefore, my project is applicable across all economies, including the UK, and looks at the profoundly serious problem of gender inequality. This PhD is about engineering and facility design at its core, but rather than asking the technical "how do we design these facilities" I am asking "how to we ensure design is inclusive".

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022066/1 31/05/2019 30/11/2027
2272011 Studentship EP/S022066/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Hannah Robinson