Championing policy change in West and Central Africa

30% of women in Senegal are active in the workforce. 77% of them work in the informal economy – small entrepreneurs, market vendors, etc. Many women indicate that in these workplaces, toilet facilities are either unavailable or unsafe to use.15

Lucile runs a shop in the Kaffrine market in central Senegal, where she sells fabrics and personal care products. She shared her frustrations in March 2017 about the inadequate facilities near the market:

– I have worked in the market since 2009 and I do not use the toilets because if you go in there you get sick! They are not safe, they are mixed (no separation for men/women), they are dirty and they stink. When I do not feel well in my stomach I take a motorbike taxi to go home (to relieve myself) and I pay 200F (USD 0.35) for the ride.

Women working in informal sectors are often the most vulnerable due to a lack of standards and maintenance in public toilets.

WSSCC seeks to address the sanitation and hygiene needs of women and girls within and outside of the home by working with local, regional and national governments across sectors to transform policy, link budgets, build capacity and integrate taboo topics into policy discussions. The Joint Programme with UN Women in West and Central Africa on Gender, Sanitation and Hygiene has achieved policy change, training and action research in three target countries: Niger, Cameroon and Senegal.

Women listening (photo)

Senegal has been a particular success story, with high-level champions in many governmental departments that support the links between gender, health, sanitation and hygiene on a national level. This momentum created the space for a revised policy, which was confirmed in November 2017. The recommendations from the Joint Programme were used as inputs to the policy, and there are now standard guidelines on appropriate facility designs at the national level in Senegal, including public spaces. These guidelines are not just available for government institutions, but also the private sector and general population.

Senegal is also a success story for women: the Teen and Youth Reproductive Health Training Manual now includes information on women’s hygiene, and the National Code of Environment is being revised to include provisions for menstrual hygiene throughout Senegal.

15 WSSCC-UN Women Joint Programme on Gender, Sanitation and Hygiene, 2017.