The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) is a five-year (2016-2021) project that aims to strengthen USAID’s country-level WASH programming and enhance global learning and adoption of the evidence-based programming in pursuit of the SDGs. The project has four components: (a) short-term technical assistance to missions; (b) implementation research in approaches and tools for achieving open defecation free status; (c) small grants on hygiene and behavior change; and, (d) strategic partnerships with local actors, international donors, USAID implementing partners, and global consortia and coalitions. Across all four components, Iris Group provides technical expertise in gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) approaches. Specifically, Iris Group staff have contributed to desk reviews on community-led total sanitation, market-based sanitation approaches, and child exposure to fecal pathogens and continue to be involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of field research projects. Iris Group staff also integrated GESI approaches into the small grants process (e.g. request for proposals and vetting of submitted proposals) and are working with grant recipients to ensure that grantees are integrating gender and addressing social inclusion concerns through their projects. Iris Group staff provide additional support to the WASHPaLS team by creating a gender integration and social inclusion plan across project activities, reviewing the MEL plan and processes and integrating gender where needed, and providing further as-needed support to component teams.
In addition to supporting core WASHPaLS activities, Iris Group is also leading a research stream on menstrual hygiene management (MHM). The key aim of the research stream is to gather evidence on the effects of improving MHM in the workplace on women’s economic empowerment in support of a workplace MHM intervention. The activity consists of three components: 1) a desk review, which surveys the evidence to date on workplace MHM approaches, 2) an economic impact study, which assesses the potential gendered economic empowerment impacts of MHM in the workplace, and 3) a pilot MHM workplace intervention activity that seeks to increase women’s economic empowerment.