Cover Image
close this bookWater and Sanitation Technologies: A Trainer's Manual (Peace Corps, 1985)
close this folderSessions
close this folderSession 21 - Women and water
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAttachment 21A: Women, water and the decade



One and a Half Hours


* Clarify views, expectations, and assumptions concerning the relationship between women and water/sanitation problems in developing countries

* State various ways Peace Corps Volunteers can include women in the development process

* Discuss ways in which community development can improve the living conditions of women in third world countries


Attachment 21-A: "Women, Water and the Decade"; WASH

Technical Report No. 6, Mary Elmendorf

Assignment Children; UNICEF, pp. 167-174


Newsprint and felt-tip pens

Copies of the attachment for all trainees

Five or six large pots (3-5 gallons)


One or more trainers. Also participating will be all staff, visitors, and/or trainees who have had experience working with women in third world countries.

Trainer Introduction

The trainers should facilitate a free flowing exchange of ideas during this session. The subject matter can lead to very lively discussions, often involving opposing view points. The WASH paper is excellent and should be distributed to all trainees.


Step 1

30 minutes

As an ice breaker, divide the trainees into groups of four to six people. Each group receives one large pot filled with water. A course is laid out and each trainee must travel the course, in relay race fashion, carrying a pot on his/her head and then passing it to the next person in the group. Afterwards, the pots are compared to see if any water was spilled.

Trainer Note

After the race, facilitate a short discussion on how it felt to carry water in such a way. Point out that this is the traditional method used in many parts of the world and women are usually responsible for this task, often carrying water long distances, several times each day. Also, mention other responsibilities of women in these countries, such as family farming, heading the household, caring for the health and preschool education of their children, hauling wood, cooking, leaning, and building traditional houses. Conclude by pointing out that although women play a vital role in the developing world, it is they who are most often excluded from the design process, decision making, and implementation of development work.

Step 2

10 minutes

Individually, trainee writes down two or three ways that they could include women in their Peace Corps work.

Step 3

20 minutes

Trainees discuss, as a large group, their individual ideas for including women in their projects.

Trainer Note

Encourage as many trainees as possible to read their suggestions. Facilitate a discussion of give and take between trainees, pointing out positive ideas and areas of conflicting opinions. Some steps which may be suggested to include women in the development process are listed below:

- Establish a relationship and learn about their roles

- Ask them their ideas and support those ideas whenever possible

- Make a special effort to understand their point of view

- Support them by personal example

- Hold women's meetings or attend such meetings already organized

- Consult and involve women in all phases of a project including decision making, design, implementation, and maintenance

- If possible, give women formal positions, such as working as your counterpart on a project.

Step 4

25 minutes

Group discussion led by "panel of experts."

Trainer Note

At this point, all those who have had experience (especially women) working with women in third world countries should be singled out as the "panel of experts." They should be informed prior to the session of the question they will be asked, so they will have time to think about their answer.

The panel members are asked to respond individually, on a personal level, to the question:

* What is the one most valuable thing a volunteer could do to help women in third world countries?

After all members have answered, the floor is opened for general questions and discussion.

Some probable answers to that question are as follows:

- Help women organize themselves into cooperatives to save money and time, and/or generate income.

- Support formal education for females to better the quality of life for themselves and their families, and to increase their opportunities for employment.

- Teach a vocational skill or craft to give them pride, enrich their lives through creative expression, and generate income.

- Through development work such as water supply projects, save them time by reducing their work burden. Given more free time, women will be able to pursue other activities.

Step 5

5 minutes

Review the objectives and conclude the session by asking the trainees to think about how their Peace Corps service in third world countries can help and improve the position of women.