Gender, Caste and Urban Sanitation: Exposing the Hidden Workforce in Bangladesh and India

A project by Sally Cawood


This QR-GCRF funded project, in partnership with WaterAid Bangladesh and India, focuses on the lives and livelihoods of sanitation workers, specifically those involved in the hazardous manual handling of human waste from pit latrines, septic tanks, sewers and drains by hand or with basic tools. The two-year project (2019-21) focuses on the everyday challenges facing these workers and their families, and pathways to improved or alternative livelihoods. The project deploys a historically-informed intersectional approach to examine the interplay between gender, caste, religion and age in determining the type of hazardous sanitation work, and opportunities to improve or exit via collective organisation, government or non-governmental support. The project feeds into ongoing global and regional advocacy on sanitation workers, who remain largely invisible in discourse, policy and practice.