By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
WaterAid is calling on governments to tackle gender inequality by ensuring all women and girls have access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene (WASH).
Currently, one in three women and girls live without a decent toilet and it is estimated that 335 million girls go to school without water and soap available for washing their hands or clothes when changing sanitary pads.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America, many girls report feeling fear, shame and embarrassment due to the lack of information, support and facilities to manage their menstruation in school.
Today, ahead of the opening of the largest global event on gender equality,Women Deliver, holding in Vancouver, Canada, WaterAid and partners are publishing a new report,‘A shared agenda: Exploring the links between water, sanitation, hygiene and sexual and reproductive health and rights in sustainable development’.
The paper draws attention to how this lack of access to WASH undermines the already disproportionate challenges faced by women and girls to realise their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
In the report, WaterAid highlights how improving access to WASH is vital in realising women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The international organisation is calling on governments to integrate national SRHR and WASH policies and guidelines and to incorporate minimum standards so that women and girls can thrive and gender inequality reduces.
During Women Deliver,which begins on 3 June, WaterAid will highlight the ways in which lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene compromises the health and rights of women and girls.
One in six health care facilities globally do not have a place to wash hands with soap and water.
Unhygienic conditions in healthcare facilities leaves women and newborns susceptible to fatal infections and, without decent toilets,women and girls are unable to manage their menstrual period privately and hygienically.
Mariame Dem,WaterAid Regional Director for West Africa said: “Women’s and girls’ autonomy, dignity and equality will not be realised without access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene.WaterAid is calling on governments, the corporate sector, and civil society to prioritise making these accessible to all women and girls, no matter where they live.
“A promise was made to the world’s population under Sustainable Development Goal 6 that everyone, everywhere would have clean water and toilets by 2030. We need everyone, especially governments, to step up and take action now so that this goal can be reached.”