New Book Toilets and Gender

Toilets and gender: Case studies from African schools

 International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris.

Proposed submission date, Sept, 2013

Claudia  Mitchell (McGill) and Relebohile Moletsane (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

This book focuses on the critical issue of toilets in and around schools in Africa and the ways in which provision of safe and sanitary toilets for both students and teachers – and especially female students and female teachers — remains as a development issue in relation to school attendance and achievement of girls as well as the recruitment of female teachers. While not all research is conclusive in relation to why girls drop out of school or miss many days of school, one key reason given is that many schools do not have toilets and those that do may not have separate toilets for girls. As well,  as girls reach pubescence they may miss school when they are having their periods, not just because they may be experiencing pain and discomfort or may have no access to sanitary supplies, but also because they find it difficult to use the same toilets as the boys or because they have no access to toilets at all. Because they miss class they tend to start falling behind their studies. Even if conclusive evidence is not easily available about the links between access to toilets and school attendance, the situation in relation to health and human dignity cannot be ignored. Toilets and Gender: Case Studies from African Schools seeks to highlight both the situation of toilets and some of the ‘ways forward’ in terms of improving the situation. It draws attention to some of the many issues that may have an impact on school attendance and achievement (both for girls and boys), and to the ways in which access to safe and clean toilets can also have an impact on teacher recruitment. As well, as a number of recent initiatives within the Water and Sanitation field have highlighted the whole area of ‘managing menstruation’ for adolescent girls as one that cuts across a range of issues, including myths about menstruation, access to sanitary napkins, and of particular relevance to this book, access to water and toilets for cleanliness and for privacy. Boys are not immune to the negative impact of poor sanitation and there is research that looks at boy-boy violence. The book  bring in different types of case studies, some which are  situational or analyze statistical data, some which highlight innovations in the area,  and some which are linked to methodology and ways of engaging communities in ‘from the ground up’ policy-making.  Some of these cases will be appear as ‘text box’ pieces of 1000-1500 words written  (and credited through by-lines) by scholars working in the various countries. These cases will be embedded within longer chapters.

Proposed Chapters

  • Mapping the situation of toilets and sanitation as a development issue
  • Toilet Design: Participatory approaches to design
  • Boy-on-boy violence, homophobia and toilet geographies
  • Gender, water, sanitation and HIV&AIDS
  • What can a school administrator do with a policy?
  • Interrogating the myths
  • Women teachers, toilets and embodied learning
  • The place of toilets in setting a new agenda for gender equity, human rights and human dignity for advancing quality education in African schools