Thursday, 19 November 2015

What Have Toilets Got to do With Girls’ Education? By Michelle Lowery

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?
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.  

Missing out on 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 girls 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.
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.”
It’s something so simple that can make a huge difference to the lives of young girls.
You can help change a girl’s life. Sponsorsing a child with ActionAid enables the community to make changes that will benefit everyone and change futures for the long term. This could include installing water pipes, building new schools and fitting toilets.

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