periods | ActionAid UK

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Desperately trying to find a toilet before you leak on your new dress. Illustration by Daisy Bernard.

This week we're returning to Latitude Festival to to highlight the challenges women and girls across the world face because of their periods. Most festival-goers will know the dread of having your period on site, where clean loos and sanitary pads are hard to come by. But millions of women and girls around the world face having no sanitary products, no proper toilets and no clean water on a monthly basis, a reality which unfairly holds them back. 

Dase, 12, with girls in school in Ethiopia who will benefit from new school buildings and toilets.

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 don’t have access to a clean or safe toilet?

Teresa passing the ActionAid cheering point during the London Marathon 2015

In 2015 I ran the London Marathon for ActionAid - it was a life’s ambition, something I’ve wanted to do since the very first London Marathon 35 years ago. And I wasn’t let down; the experience was amazing. I love to run, but I’m not fast and I’m not an athlete. I was aiming for a six hour finish time and to soak up the legendary atmosphere that people say will ‘carry you along’.

Wuya, 9, collects water from a local stream in Sierra Leone.

How much water do you need to survive? How many people don't have access to water? And what does that mean, anyway? These aren't questions we usually ask ourselves, even if magazines or tube announcements constantly remind us to 'stay hydrated'. But it's World Water Week, and everyone is talking about water. Here are four top facts you need to know about water, and how ActionAid is helping communities gain access to it. 

Emilia listens to students reading at the Annaso school in Girar Jarso community, Ethiopia.

Actress and ActionAid ambassador Emilia Fox recently travelled to Ethiopia, where over a quarter of the population live below the poverty line. Her diary highlights what she saw of our work helping women and children in extreme poverty to change their lives, and tells about the inspiring people she met. Scroll down to see the video of her trip. 

Women like Suljhana, 30, in Nepal, are struggling to cope with their periods after the Nepal earthquakes

On average women spend 2,100 days on their period during their lifetime.  So let’s talk about them. A year ago I wrote a blog about periods; 'The worst period of her life: putting myself in her shoes'. Thousands of people have read the blog and continue to do so regularly, which makes me confident it’s something people are ready to talk about at last. A year on, and after hearing stories like Suljhana's from Nepal, I thought it was time to readdress the topic – seeing as it's World Menstrual Hygiene Day.