09 Jun

"It is concerning that in the average household, the person cleaning or maintaining the toilet is a woman, yet when it becomes a professional job, the role is completely dominated by men." Abigail Mutamuko, Hitbay Director  

Hitbay staff ‘raising hand’ hygiene awareness at Masaisai Primary School, Harare

At Hitbay, our activities are centered on principles of encouraging good sanitary practices, environmental preservation, social inclusion, and making a positive difference in the communities we operate in. We believe that if we follow these principles we will contribute to the advancement towards a more sustainable future for our planet and its inhabitants. This particularly speaks to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that seek to address global challenges of poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice, by 2030. Below we focus on our principle of social inclusion and the efforts we are making to contribute to addressing SDG 5, Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

More women at Hitbay

Before seeking to address issues of social inclusion in society at large we had to introspect and make sure our own house was in order. At the onset, without putting any thought to it, we found ourselves with a male-only team. However, ever since we realised our subconscious gender bias we have been deliberate about ensuring that women are well represented in our ranks, both in leadership roles and on the ground.  We are extremely proud of the decision we took to hire more women staff and the instant positive impact they have made in our business. That said we have challenged ourselves to continue with improving the diversity in the team, and to ensure that the environment they are working in is conducive; this relates to aspects of the job such as safety and equal pay and opportunity. We hope that this approach will inspire the rest of the industry and our society to empower all women. 

Lets talk about it

We believe that awareness campaigns can be effective in shaping how society perceives women and drive the change that is required to achieve equality. To date we have conducted over 20 awareness events across the country. Interestingly, you are sure to find groups of men likely engaging in discourse on the subject of women at bottle stores and bars; which is why this has been a target for some of our awareness campaigns - sometimes cleverly disguised as hand-hygiene competitions. We have also had the pleasure of visiting schools and talking to children about good hygiene practices including disposal of sanitary pads in an environmentally friendly manner. The more we talk about these issues the more they become normalised in our society.

Dignity for all

Lack of access to clean water and appropriate toilet infrastructure especially in poor communities means a lot of our young girls and women are not only vulnerable and unsafe but are without dignity. Being in the business of providing sanitation solutions we have an opportunity to play a role in alleviating this problem. As such, we have - in our private capacity as well as in collaboration with government and NGOs - conducted initiatives to provide mobile toilets and hand wash basins to several poor communities across the country. However, Hitbay is aware of the small contribution we are making given the enormity of the problem in our society; which is why we are calling to action entities and individuals with greater resources to step in and make a more significant impact. We will continue to run awareness campaigns and to support the work being conducted by other organisations dedicated to this cause.

We can do better

Committed to the principle of social inclusion we have identified two areas we can focus and make a positive impact in addressing SDG 5. Firstly, being in the business of providing sanitation solutions we must find a practical and cost-effective way of ensuring that we provide sanitary wear in our toilets. While we acknowledge the challenge of the cost of such an initiative and the impact on the profitability of our business, we also commit to keeping an ear on the ground for cheap alternatives as well as collaborative opportunities with organisations working in this field. Secondly, we must also ensure that people with disabilities and the elderly are accommodated not only in our services but in society at large. Hitbay has disabled toilet units for hire but this does not seem to be priority when a client is working with a strict budget - educating our clients is key!

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