Gender Equality

Pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 27/7 of 2014, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Léo Heller, was mandated to work on identifying challenges and obstacles to the full realization of the rights, as well as protection gaps, good practices and enabling factors.

The Special Rapporteur is elaborating a report on the subject of gender equality in the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation and will present it to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2016. He invited States, intergovernmental organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, United Nations agencies and entities, academia and all other interested stakeholders to contribute their views and perspectives on this subject in writing through a questionnaire. This questionnaire and the responses received from these stakeholders can be consulted here.

On 3 June 2016, the Special Rapporteur also held an expert consultation with experts on gender, human rights and water and sanitation from various fields.

The Special Rapporteur considers that many of the challenges for gender equality in access to water and sanitation are well documented: women and girls bear the greatest burden in collecting water where water is not available in the home, with devastating consequences for the enjoyment of other human rights. Other challenges related to inequalities, however, also exist, including in access to sanitation, in relation to menstrual hygiene and in increased risks for gender-based violence. Socio-economic differences and social-cultural relationships and practices may aggravate gendered differences in the enjoyment of rights. Since the root causes to those differences are complex and context-dependent, progress towards substantive equality in access to water and sanitation requires public action on different fronts.