Photo: ©2009 World Vision
With the passing of Earth Day this week I started to reflect on how fortunate I am to have easy access to water and sanitation. Even though these are things we often take for granted, many people do not have access to clean water, sanitation or proper sanitation facilities. Gender may not seem to be a particular factor in the discussion around sanitation, but there needs to be a focus on girls in the initiatives working towards solving sanitation issues. One of these solutions is providing schools with separate latrines for boys and girls. Providing separate bathrooms for boys and girls is a simple solution to eradicating problems around girl’s education. When girls in the developing world enter puberty they are often feel that there is no alternative but to drop out of school because they do not have the proper facilities to cater to their necessary privacy. Like water, having separate bathrooms is something the western world might take for granted. However, in cultures that are embedded with patriarchal norms, girls are taught to be embarrassed by their menstrual cycles. Therefore, when girls start to menstruate they often are discouraged from going to school because of the lack of private facilities. According to a report by UNICEF
, “lack of separate and decent sanitation and washing facilities discourages girls who are menstruating from attending full time, often adding up to a significant proportion of school days missed.”
Providing basic sanitary facilities should be a top concern because of it interlinks with girl’s education. Educating girls should also be at the top of our agenda because of the valuable effects it can bring. Not only can education work to empower girls, it can be a key role in closing the gender gap in developing countries. Having separate toilets for boys and girls is a basic requirement to having a safe and comfortable learning environment. Having adequate sanitation facilities are not only necessary but will encourage girls to stay in school. Continue to support World Visions WASH program as its goal is to significantly improve the wellbeing of young girls.