…As the World celebrates Int’l Women’s Day (March 8, 2016) – WaterAid has reported that one in three schoolgirls around the world do not have access to safe, private toilets at school; increasing the likelihood that girls will drop out at puberty and entrenching the cycle of poverty.
A release from the International Charity as part of International Women’s Day, Tuesday, 8 March 2016 noted that women and girls, who make up more than half the world’s population, are often more deeply impacted than men and boys by a lack of access to safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
WaterAid further noted that women and girls are also often more affected by poverty, inequality, lack of access to health care and by global economic crises.
According to WaterAid, globally, some 1.2 billion women and girls still live without adequate sanitation and 330 million women and girls still live without access to clean drinking water, stressing that the overwhelming majority of these women and girls live in the developing world.
WaterAid says and more than half of schools in the world’s Least Developed Countries do not have access to adequate sanitation, according to UNICEF monitoring.
Dirty water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene including lack of handwashing facilities with soap is primarily a women’s issue, impacting women and girls’ health, safety and right to education more than men, and needs addressing at the highest levels.
While we must celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and acknowledge their many significant contributions to society, the global theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, ‘Pledge for Parity’ highlights that we must also remain keenly aware that progress has slowed or has remained minimal in many places across the world, including in Nigeria. This deceleration in progress continues to keep the gender gap wide open and urgent action is needed to accelerate gender parity.
WaterAid’s research and experience has shown that when women are empowered to speak out on access to water and sanitation, communities – including homes, schools and medical facilities – are more likely to accommodate the needs of girls and women, improving everyone’s health, well-being and economic status.
Dirty water and lack of sanitation are responsible for the diarrhoeal deaths of more than 150,000 girls under five each year across the world. Women and girls who must spend hours a day seeking water cannot spend that time at school or in income-generating activities. Eliminating that burden, and giving girls the time and opportunity to focus on education, will ultimately lead to healthier, better-educated families, who have a better chance of working their way out of extreme poverty.
WaterAid and Partners are meanwhile calling on governments to make safe, private toilets and handwashing facilities a priority in schools as well as in homes and healthcare facilities, to help prevent unnecessary deaths and keep girls in school.
WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 23 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 21 million people with sanitation
Globally (new stats):
- Around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s nearly 900 children each day, or one child every two minutes.
- Over 650 million people (around one in ten) are without safe water
- Over 2.3 billion people (around one in three) live without improved sanitation
- For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
- Just £15 can help provide one person with access to safe water.