Contributing to a gender-balanced WASH sector

Purity Kerubo is a laboratory technologist at the Gusii Water and Sewerage Company (GUWASCO). The company is among 13 water utilities that USAID’s Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (KIWASH) project is supporting to improve service delivery. One such support has been on gender equity mainstreaming.

“I joined GUWASCO as a casual laborer and after a few years was promoted to laboratory technologist,” Purity says. She holds a diploma in analytical chemistry. Despite her qualifications, Purity has faced challenges in her career because of her gender. “It is unfortunate that male chauvinism is still rampant. Some still hold the belief that technical fields are meant for men only,” she says.

Reflecting on some of the challenges she faces, she adds, “Sometimes the job is demanding because heavy lifting is required, especially when receiving supplies such as chemicals and equipment. As a woman, when you cannot do the heavy lifting, some judge you as being physically unfit for the job.”

“Women in technical fields must work hard to eliminate any doubts about their abilities and competencies. Attitude change and creating a good working rapport with all colleagues is a sure way of avoiding resistance to more women in the workplace,” notes Purity.

Her core job entails checking the water quality to guarantee all water variables are within the permitted parameters. “I am satisfied with my work because I know I am guaranteeing clean and safe water for consumers,” says Purity. “This also motivates me to pay attention to details because any wrong test could potentially affect the health of our customers.”

Purity believes that gender equality mainstreaming should start not at the work place but with families. “Parents should ensure that their children have equal education opportunities. There is no way to seek gender equity when women do not have the required skills and training,” she points out. Purity plans to pursue further education to advance her career. “I want to pursue a degree in analytical chemistry, and I look forward to reaching the level of a chief chemist in the future.”

With KIWASH support, companies like GUWASCO have continued to overcome gender biases and improve opportunities for women. In the process, the company has developed a performance improvement plan which has helped the company improve its service delivery, while ensuring equal employment opportunities for women.

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