"They're risking their lives to use the toilet”

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för socialt arbete

Abstract: This study is concerned with examining how women cope with inadequate sanitation. Through the lens of capability approach, gender and class, the aim of the study is to examine what strategies women have and use in order to cope with poor sanitation. The study is based on twelve semi-structured interviews with women in Tamil Nadu, India. The women adapted to the lack of sanitation facilities by applying a range of coping strategies, such as regulating their behaviour and walking together in groups during sanitation-related activities. Other strategies were recognised as avoiding water/food intake along with withholding urine/defecation. Searching for safe(r) places to perform open-defecation is another central aspect. Our research contributes to the existing research by providing an insight to how women on a daily basis perceive and use strategies to cope with inadequate sanitation. Our main finding is that women, regardless of class belonging, have to find strategies in order to cope with poor sanitation and inadequate access to toilet facilities.

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