A Gender Dialogue

By Ron Clemmer, Strategy and Business Development Manager, WASH, FHI 360.

photoAbout the author: Ron Clemmer joined FHI360 in May after working with World Vision as Senior Technical Advisor for WASH for six years. Ron is passionate about building sustainable water and sanitation services through the public and private sectors, hygiene behavior change that becomes habit, and integrated programming of WASH with nutrition, HIV, neglected tropical diseases, education, and women’s empowerment.

“I was fortunate to attend last week’s World Water Week 2015 in Stockholm which included, among many other activities, attending three different water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and gender sessions. Having five hours of presentations and discussion on WASH and gender issues in one day was remarkable. Great that gender had so much focus! One of the presentations I found fascinating was research on the psychosocial stress of women and girls related to WASH, presented by Robert Dreibelbis, from the University of Oklahoma. WASH programming can provide a good entry point for working with communities for many development goals, including empowerment of women and gender equity, was one of the conclusions of the session.

At World Water Week, I shared how the USAID-funded WASHplus project, implemented by FHI 360, is strengthening girl’s and boy’s education by integrating and embedding WASH in Schools and providing support for menstrual hygiene management.

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Photo Credit: German Toilet Organisation

World Water Week was part of two weeks of intense dialogue of women empowerment for me. The week before, I had multiple communications on women’s empowerment surrounding WASH with my FHI 360 colleagues working on the WASHplus project, as we have begun discussing how to support the representation of WASH issues at Women Deliver 2016 Conference. We discussed how WASH not only addresses health issues, but also influences safety, time poverty, and dignity for women and girls.

If you are not familiar, Women Deliver is a leading global advocate for girls’ and women’s health, rights, and wellbeing and brings together diverse voices and interests to drive investments and progress, particularly in maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights. The focus of the Women Deliver 2016 Conference will be on how development can best support girls and women, with a specific lens on health, rights, gender equality, education, and economic empowerment.

As the father of two young girls, I often think about girl’s empowerment and what that means for society at large. I am fortunate to work in an organization which empowers women and girls through not just the provision of improved WASH but also the integration of WASH into other development sectors to strengthen girls and women’s rights, health, and wellbeing.

Before I ran to the airport to catch my flight to Stockholm, I was involved in women’s empowerment in an entirely personal way. My 12 year old daughter was participating in her 3rd triathlon while my wife was enjoying listening to my younger daughter’s piano recital. We are grateful for the opportunities that our daughters have to flourish into empowered young women, as I strive in my work to contribute to the empowerment of less privileged girls around the world.”

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