19 November 2015
Toilets? We probably don’t give them too much thought in our day to day life. Why would we? But what if we were one of the 2.4 billion – yes billion - people across the globe who didn’t have access to a clean or safe toilet?
What if we were a girl who couldn’t go to school and will miss out on some of her education because she has to stay home when she’s on her period? What if we were the girl who faces being sexually attacked because we have to go to the toilet outside and in the dark? A problem girls living in poverty have to face every day.
A simple thing has a huge impact.
Well this World Toilet Day (yes it is a thing, and an important thing at that) we’re urging people to consider toilets, the bog, loo, latrine – whatever you want to call it – and the value of them.
Girls missing out on education
Without accessible toilets at school, many girls are losing out on their education. More than half of the primary schools in Africa don’t have access to water and sanitation. The UN reports that one in ten girls in Africa will miss school because of her period. And a study in Ethiopia found that 50% of girls miss between one and four days of school per month due to menstruation.
I was in the Girar Jarso community in Ethiopia earlier this year with the actress Emilia Fox and all the children in a school used the same single toilet, which was little more than a hole in the ground and no door, open for all to see. It wasn't a secure place to use the toilet.
Thanks to ActionAid and the partners we work with in the community, a new school is being built which will include separate male and female toilets so children can feel more safe, secure and comfortable going to the toilet.
If a girl drops out of school she is more likely to marry
Birhane Kenenies, who teaches at the school told us; “It’s especially important for girls to go to school because when they drop out they often get married. When they attend school they gain confidence and we educate them about their rights and about equality.”
Ending period poverty is so simple and can make a huge difference to the lives of young girls.
You can help change a girl’s life. Please give a monthly gift of sanitary towels and help a girl stay in school when she’s got her period.