International Women’s Day 2012March 8, 2012
For International Women’s Day 2012, Peepoople would like to raise the problems young girls face when lacking access to toilets.
In a typical primary school in the world’s slums, the state of the sanitary facilities and the level of the children’s hygiene are poor. Often hundreds of children have to share single pit latrines. The floors are covered with fresh faeces and are wet with urine. Children without shoes are left with no option but to stand barefoot in this mess to relieve themselves. Boys and girls are forced by circumstances to share a toilet or use adjacent latrines. What’s more, there are no cleaning products such as disinfectants, hand-washing facilities, running water or toilet paper.
In an atmosphere of poor health, children are unable to fulfil their potential in school. Each year, 272 million school days are lost due to diarrhoea and other related diseases caused by lack of water, sanitation and hygiene.
For girls, the situation is even more severe, especially when they are approaching puberty. A major reason that many girls do not finish schools located in urban slums or informal settlements can be directly traced to the lack of toilets. About one in 10 school-age girls do not attend school during menstruation, or they drop out at puberty because of a lack of clean and private sanitation facilities. A lack of towels is also another reason why girls miss school during their menstrual days.
Women who have been to school are less likely to die during childbirth. Each additional year of education is estimated to prevent two maternal deaths for every 1,000 women. Research also shows that for every 10% increase in female literacy, a country’s economy can grow by 0.3%.
To address this problem, over 20 schools in the Kibera slum outside of Nairobi are now using the Peepoo, one of them is St Johns School. The headmaster Josiah Mwania Munyuti says: “My school is now using the Peepoo toilet. There is a great difference in terms of hygiene and children are no longer affected by diseases.”