WaterAid calls for better access to safe, private toilets for Sierra Leone women and girls this Menstrual Hygiene Day

Every day, 800 million women around the world has a period, yet for most this time of the month is shrouded in secrecy, shame and stigma – regardless of who they are or where they are in the world.  WaterAid aims to help change this by opening the conversation this Menstrual Hygiene Day.

Why does WaterAid want to bring periods out of the closet? The easier it is for people to discuss menstruation, whether they are teenage girls, village leaders or government ministers, the easier it will become for women and girls to discuss what changes they need to deal with their periods with dignity.

One in three women around the world do not have access to a decent toilet when they are on their period – meaning that it can be really hard to deal with menstruation with dignity.

Girls in Sierra Leone can be in danger if there are no private, decent toilets at school for them to manage their periods properly. They either go to the bush, risking attack from onlookers or dangerous animals, or opt to stay home and so miss out on their education and the greater opportunities it brings. Girls often feel shame, fear and confusion around periods which is intensified when there is no source of clean water, soap, or a private girls’ toilet with space to wash in.

WaterAid is calling on everyone this Menstrual Hygiene Day on 28 May and in the future to encourage people to be more open about menstruation, to help confront taboos as well as highlighting the issues faced by the one in three women worldwide who do not have access to a toilet during their period.

Country director from WaterAid, Patrick N. Cheah said:

            “As WaterAid, we recognize that the lack of Menstrual Hygiene Management is one of the key impediments to good gender equality, girls school attendance and women participation in public life, thus we will continue to advocate for global, and national support for the alleviation of this barrier. So, as we celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day, we once again urge the Government of Sierra Leone and all stakeholders to provide funding opportunities and support that will enable women in work place and girls in school to function seamlessly in managing their menstrual hygiene.”

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said:

“Every day, 800 million women around the world have their period, yet most of us consider it embarrassing and taboo. Unless we can all talk about periods openly, whether we are a teenager or a government minister, we won’t be able to make sure that women and girls have the decent toilets and sanitary products they need. And the superstitions and taboos that mean too many women and girls live a half-life during their periods will remain unchallenged.

“When there are no safe, private toilets in schools, girls often skip school during their period, or drop out altogether once they reach puberty. We need to talk openly about this issue and remove the silence and stigma that surround periods. Most of all we need to ensure that every women and girl has access to water, safe toilets and somewhere to wash by 2030.”

Menstrual Hygiene Day was started by WASH United in 2014 to build awareness of the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in helping women and girls reach their full potential.  Find out more on WaterAid’s activities at www.wateraid.org.

  • Around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s almost 900 children each day, or one child every two minutes.
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