November 19, 2012
1 in 3 women lacks a safe toilet, increasing their risk of illness, shame, harassment and violence
1 in 3 women around the world has no access to a safe toilet, threatening their health and exposing them to shame, fear and violence.
Sandimhia Renato, aged 18, from Northern Mozambique, lives without a toilet.
WaterAid / Eva-Lotta Jansson
This means that on World Toilet Day,
November 19, 1.25 billion women and girls lack safe and adequate sanitation and of those 526 million don’t have a toilet at all. For these women, a lack of access to latrines that meet their basic needs compounds the risk of violence that many experience every day. In fact, worldwide one in three women will experience physical, sexual or emotional violence in her lifetime.
We call on governments to recognize the importance of access to water and sanitation in improving the health, dignity and safety of women and girls living in the world’s poorest communities.
- David Winder, CEO, WaterAid, America
David Winder, CEO of WaterAid, America said:
“A third of women worldwide risk disease, shame, and physical, sexual and emotional violence because they have nowhere safe to go to the bathroom. Social taboos prevent women from openly discussing such personal issues, meaning that many crimes go unreported and many women are suffering in silence. Impunity for these crimes increases the challenge of preventing violence against women, but makes it even more critical that we all contribute to addressing this massive crisis.
We call on governments to recognize the importance of access to water and sanitation in improving the health, dignity and safety of women and girls living in the world’s poorest communities.”
Other studies from Uganda, Kenya, India and the Solomon Islands show that such experiences of fear, indignity and violence are common place wherever women lack access to safe and adequate sanitation.
Sandimhia Renato, 18, from Mozambique walks 15 minutes every day to defecate in the bush. She told us:
“Sometimes when I go I feel ashamed and go back without defecating. Sometimes I wait until dark to go there so no one can see me. I will be very concerned about Diani, my daughter, going to the bush because it is so far from here. At night it is very dangerous. People get killed. A woman and a boy were killed with knives. One woman I know of has been raped.”
Security was a recurring concern in the poll of women from slums in Lagos, Nigeria, with 67% of respondents saying they feel unsafe even using shared or community toilets in a public place.
Poor hygiene, another concern raised by the poll respondents, has serious implications on health. Every day, 2,000 mothers lose a child to diarrheal diseases caused by a lack of adequate sanitation and clean water. Diarrheal diseases are the second-leading cause of preventable death for children aged one month to five years, worldwide.
Lack of decent sanitation also affects productivity and livelihoods. Women and girls living in developing countries without bathroom facilities spend 97 billion hours each year finding a place to go in the open, according to figures released in a WaterAid briefing.
Sanitation is an effective and efficient investment. For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity. Yet, 2.5 billion people still live without even a basic pit latrine, with wide ranging consequences at the individual, national and even global levels.
Dr. Winder continued:
“On World Toilet Day WaterAid joins the call of hundreds of international organizations for governments to keep the promises they have made to improve access to sanitation and safe water in the world’s poorest countries.
In particular, we call on the United States to expand its leadership on safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. These critical services underlie many of our international development and foreign policy priorities, yet they remain low priority here and around the world. In addition, while we commend the US Department of State and USAID for releasing the first-ever interagency strategy for addressing gender-based violence worldwide, we encourage all partner agencies, especially USAID, to consider the vulnerability to violence created by lack of access to safe water and safe latrines at school or home.”
WaterAid has also released a new film showing what it would be like for women in the western world if they also lacked sanitation. The film can be viewed online at www.wateraidamerica.org/1in3
Notes to editors:
The poll in Nigeria was commissioned by WaterAid and carried out by international polling and research company GlobeScan to conduct a poll in the slums of Lagos, between 18 and 22 October 2012. The poll interviewed 500 women about their experiences of and around sanitation. The survey was conducted in five slum areas; Ajegunle, Ijora, Badia, Oko Agbon and Otto-Oyingbo.
Some of the other poll results found that:
- The most common location for women accessing sanitation facilities was ‘informal outside location’ (40%) as compared to a toilet within their own home (33%), public toilet in the area where they live (19%) or public toilet at their place of work (6%).
- 68% of women agreed that the cost of accessing public toilets was a problem for them.
- 61% of women agreed that the public toilets that they normally used were unhygienic.
- 98% of women stated that compared to other priorities such as spending on education or transport infrastructure, felt that it was either very important (89%) or somewhat important (9%) for the Nigerian Government to invest in sanitation as a way to improve your health, safety and livelihood.
Full poll results can be found in the 1 in 3 Women WaterAid World Toilet Day briefing
WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organization works in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific region and Central America 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 17.5 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 12.9 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit www.wateraidamerica.org
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on Twitter or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraidamerica.
- Around 2,000 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. Pneumonia, the leading cause of preventable death for children aged one month to five years, could be prevented with improved hygiene, while diarrhea, the second-leading cause of preventable death in the same age group, could be prevented with sustained access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
- 783 million people in the world live without safe water. This is roughly one in eight of the world's population.
- 2.5 billion people live without sanitation; this is 39% of the world's population.
- For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity.
- Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia lose 5-6% of their Gross Domestic Products each year due to lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. In 2009, this lost GDP in sub-Saharan Africa--$47.7 billion—totalled more than all aid delivered to the region.
- Just $25 can enable one person to access a lasting supply of safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation.