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WASH Sector Gender Policy

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1. Rationale

The purpose of this policy is to define the main approach for the WASH Sector on how to address gender issues. It will also guide the WASH Sector and its partners to make gender equality and empowerment of women and girls a core principle of its humanitarian and long-term development directive. The rational for integrating a gender equality into the activities of the WASH Sector in Cox’s Bazar lies in the humanitarian mandate of the Sector, to alleviate human suffering without discrimination. “Gender" refers to the socially constructed differences between females and males and the relationships between and among them throughout their life cycle1 . In every society, men, women, boys and girls play different roles and have different needs. A gender perspective is required to ensure that men and women’s specific needs, vulnerabilities and capacities are recognized and addressed.
From the onset, the Rohingya refugee crisis has had a particularly gendered nature. Fifty one percent (51%) of the total population in need, including refugee and host community, are female.
Girls (female refugee population from 5 to 17 y.o.), who represent a larger proportion (18%3 ) of the vulnerable group, are particularly at risk of sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect. The facts on the ground present unique challenges as well as opportunities for saving lives, protecting the basic human rights of the affected populations and for gender transformative programming.

Whereas humanitarian actors are working to address gender and girls and women protection and empowerment issues, it is not yet sufficiently mainstreamed into every sector’s activities, including in relation to the principle of “do no harm”, empowerment and accountability. There are still gaps and challenges for which efforts need to continue example participation of women and girls in decision making especially regarding construction and use of WASH facilities and services. Women and girls with specific needs are facing even more difficulties. The recent COVID-19 scenarios have put even more burden on lives of women and girls, exacerbating already present gender inequalities4 .
This policy offers a framework for translating into practice gender equality commitments endorsed by the Strategic Executive Group (SEG).

2. Scope

This policy is a framework that specifies principles, standards and actions for the WASH Sector and individual Sector Partners to ensure gender differences and gender inequalities are taken into account and dealt with in relation to the implementation of the Joint Response Plans (JRP), including emergency preparedness and response. This Policy should be used alongside the IASC5 Gender Handbook and the IASC Gender with Age Marker, Strategic Executive Group (SEG) endorsed Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls (GEEWG) Commitments and accompanied by an Accountability Frameworkto monitor implementation and progress.