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Non-discrimination is an essential and crosscutting element of the realization of the rights to water and sanitation services. While non-discrimination is a more negative paradigm that is frequently understood as merely refraining from active discrimination against women, substantive equality emphasizes the need to take proactive measures to address socially constructed disadvantages. Substantive equality means that the same right in theory may require different implementation in substance for different people. It requires States to examine the concrete impacts of their policies on women, but also appreciates that women are a heterogeneous category experiencing intersectional forms of marginalization and opportunities. For instance, while building toilets, the fact that women and girls are more likely to endure violence should be taken into account.

Macroeconomic policy can produce discriminatory outcomes by adopting policies that perpetuate inequality among various groups, requiring those groups to carry an unequal burden of the costs of adjustment to recession, high rates of inflation, and financial crises. However, debates on macroeconomic strategy rarely examine or prioritize its non-discrimination dimensions. For example, budget deficits are generally reduced by cutting expenditures rather than increasing tax revenues, with vulnerable/marginalized groups bearing the disproportionate burden. In addition, the risk that women will disproportionately experience the impacts of expenditure cuts is heightened due to the social pressure for women to compensate for service cuts with their unpaid work, e.g., by undertaking increased water collection activities if the government cuts expenditure on water and sanitation services.......

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