In India, access to sanitation amongst the urban poor remains low, and women are worse affected than men. Little is known about barriers to sanitation at the workplace, a location where working adults spend close to half of their waking hours. To explore access to sanitation facilities at the workplace amongst poor urban women, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 48 women working in low-income jobs in Bangalore. Access to sanitation varied by occupation group, with construction workers and domestic workers being the worst affected, and factory workers and street vendors better off. Consequences of inadequate access to sanitation included shame and fear related to urination and defecation in open areas, holding back the urge to urinate or defecate, walking significant distances during working hours to use a latrine, inability to maintain adequate menstrual hygiene at work, loss of pay as a result of missing work during menstruation and resentment towards employers who did not provide access to latrines. The findings reveal significant shortcomings in access to sanitation at the workplace for poor urban women. Extending legislation and improving the implementation of current regulation would improve access to sanitation at the workplace, as would increasing the coverage of public toilets.

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