A staffing strategy centered around women

March 18, 2021
5 3 Gender Culture Header
Photo by Alice Lee/iDE/2019
iDE Global WASH

How women are driving change across the sanitation value chain in Ghana.

Since its inception in 2016, Sama Sama has prioritized understanding how gender dynamics influence who, when, where, why, and how households access, purchase, and use WASH products. This is central to our mission of creating a sustainable business strategy across the six stages of the sanitation value chain: point-of-use, containment, emptying, transport, treatment, and reuse.

Ensuring representation in the value chain

In 2018, Sama Sama explored how we might involve women in the sanitation value chain and provide income-generating opportunities for their households and communities. We focused this research on the point-of-use and containment stages of the value chain, exploring women's and men's time use, barriers to engagement in sanitation enterprises, and motivations to engage in WASH entrepreneurship. Our findings reinforced just how important women are as WASH value chain actors, from consumers and decision makers to suppliers, educators, advocates, and sales agents. Programmatic recommendations included: hosting gender sensitivity training for program staff to better mainstream gender within programming; creating apprenticeships for aspiring female toilet business owners in conjunction with universities; and tailoring promotional activities to engage women while they're at market days.

Now, as we move into the emptying and transport stages of the value chain, Sama Sama is examining how women want to engage with the fecal sludge management (FSM) space, through recruitment and ongoing research. Similar to the original research two years ago, we are examining barriers to access to FSM at the household level, FSM decision making, and motivations to work within the FSM space. This research is already uncovering key insights to ensure women have meaningful participation in the FSM space, both as suppliers and consumers.

Providing leadership opportunities

Through our staffing, we want community members to see women in the FSM space, and to inspire other women to consider how they might engage in the WASH sector broadly. To overcome employment barriers, we are building a pipeline of talent for women to enter the FSM space by designing opportunities for career growth and meaningful benefits. To start, we looked internally, and iDE recruited women to take on a new role with significant training and responsibilities to support our quickly evolving FSM service.

After a competitive process, one woman was ultimately selected to step into an FSM fellowship where she works in close collaboration with the FSM service operator and technical designer. She is leading sample collection and facilitating lab activities incorporating over 50 fecal sludge samples; the results of these lab tests will determine what type of viable byproducts can be generated from the sludge (such as fertilizer, biogas, bio-charcoal etc). Through this approach, Sama Sama is creating the opportunity for other women on our staff and within the community to gain expertise in the space.

Just the beginning

Understanding how women exert their influence and their willingness to utilize and/or participate in FSM services will inform Sama Sama's programmatic decisions for developing marketing strategies, tailoring end products and services to women, and designing recruitment channels. Further, by placing women that already work at Sama Sama into roles within our FSM service, we will forge visible career pathways for women across the organization and within the community to emulate. We will continue to design our market-based approaches to maximize behavioral impact by encouraging greater participation of women in the sanitation value chain—from point of use to reuse.

Ghana Logo Panel
Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.