Single Blog Title

This is a single blog caption

The Value of WASH Jobs for Rural Women in Cambodia

2019 Women’s Economic Empowerment Research Presentations at
UNC Water & Health Conference and MEDS (Cambodia)

When WaterSHED began engaging in sanitation marketing activities in 2009 across eight provinces in rural Cambodia, our teams noticed that women were not participating in WASH markets at the same rate as men.  In a country where 65% of businesses are female-owned[1], where was this entrepreneurial drive in rural WASH markets?

WaterSHED conducted formative research to identify the gender-specific challenges hindering women’s access to starting and growing a latrine hardware businesses, as well as profitably selling WASH products and services in their communities.

In 2016, winning an award from the inaugural Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s ‘Women & Girls at the Center of Development’ Grand Challenge, WaterSHED addressed these challenges through our WEwork Collective Program. The WEwork Collective was a multi-faceted and contextually appropriate program that encouraged women to succeed in WASH markets in rural Cambodia. While this approach generated interest in WASH income-generating activities (IGAs), it proved challenging to convert that interest into entrance, retention, and satisfaction in the WASH market.

To explore this pattern further, WaterSHED focused new research on targeting and recruitment of better-fit profiles for rural women more likely to succeed in WASH markets.

So who is an ideal candidate for a WASH IGA? It turns out that women who knew latrine sales agents they could ask for advice, felt they had latrine sales agent technical knowledge, could imagine being a latrine sales agent, made work-related decisions on their own, and did not feel vulnerable to harassment at work were more likely to be involved in WASH IGAs.

Our findings suggest that WASH jobs provide women the flexibility and personal freedom needed to balance an IGA with traditional responsibilities at home.

To learn more about these findings check out our reports presented by our team, Sovattha and Allison.

[1] Asian Development Bank, 2015. Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in Cambodia.