Sunday, 24 January 2021

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No safe toilet for one out of three women

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19 November 2014 - Of the 2.5 billion people living without access to improved sanitation, as many as 1 billion (15 % of the world's population) still have no option but to defecate in the open. Lack of adequate toilet facilities undermines the health and dignity of both women and men. However, unimproved sanitation has even more adverse impacts on the life of girls and women.

The theme for this year’s World Toilet Day (WTD) is “Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation.” One out of three women around the world lack access to safe toilets. Gender equality, sanitation and hygiene are closely related topics as women face more negative impacts, such as violence, disease and shame, caused by unimproved sanitation.

UN Water Logo World Toilet DayIt is the inconvenient truth that in many developing countries women have to hold their bladder and bowels all day because of the lack of privacy of the sanitation facilities. This already undermines their ability to work, to study and to enjoy life. Many women avoid drinking during the day to avoid going to the toilet. This has many serious health effects such as dehydration and chronic constipation.

After waiting all day to relieve themselves in the dark, women risk being attacked or raped as they have no access to a safe toilet. As far-fetched as it may sound to a western reader, women in developing countries also risk being attacked by predators and snakes everyday when having to expose themselves in the dark. Women also have a greater need for hygiene and they are more vulnerable to infections caused by unhygienic sanitation conditions than men.

Women’s lack of proper sanitation facilities is not just a threat to women themselves but it is undermining the capacity of women to contribute to their families’ and communities’ wellbeing and development. It is also one of the most important reasons for girls not going to school in developing countries. Both female pupils and teachers often avoid drinking during the day and suffer from dehydration, which has a negative impact on their health, including cognition, and undermines the pupils’ ability to learn.

Gender equality should be a central objective when addressing the global sanitation challenge. On the international day, the UN Secretary-General urges us to “spare no effort to bring equality, dignity and safety to women and girls around the world”.

UNRIC’s related links:

Use the loo, says Mr. Poo

In order to clean up, we’ll have to talk dirty

Toilets and poo remain taboo

A straight flush for the future

Deadly serious facts behind World Toilet Day

Washroom, restroom, lavatory, loo…

6 billions have GSM - 2,5 billion no toilet

MDGs: Sanitation lagging behind

UN Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson calls for ‘taboo’ on sanitation to be broken

Oher related links:

The Guardian: "Lack of toilets puts India's health and rural women's safety at risk"

The Telegraph: "Toilet: hygienic sanitation should be for everyone"

UN Water – World Toilet Day

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