Support the 1 in 3 women without a toilet

On World Toilet Day, Monday 19 November, WaterAid is drawing attention to the one in three women around the world who have no access to a safe toilet. This can threaten their health and expose them to shame, fear and even violence.


9 Nov 2012 | International

To mark the day, we are releasing a powerful new film and a series of studies from around the world to show the impact of inadequate sanitation on women.

The film shows the realities faced by over a billion woman every day. Transposing the situation from low income countries to a high income country, the film follows one woman's journey as she faces the fear, shame and harassment when going to the toilet at night.

Produced by Grain Media for WaterAid, the film is being premiered at an event in London on Monday 19 November. WaterAid supporters are being asked to watch the film, take action and share the news.

Why toilets matter - new insights from Nigeria

A survey commissioned by WaterAid and released for World Toilet Day has shown that of women surveyed in five slums in Lagos, Nigeria, one in five had first or second hand experience of verbal harassment and intimidation, or had been threatened or physically assaulted in the last year when going to the toilet.

Anecdotal evidence from communities suggests that the scale of the problem may be much larger than this.

Barbara Frost, Chief Executive of WaterAid, said: "When women don't have a safe, secure and private place to go to the toilet they are exposed and put in a vulnerable position and when they relieve themselves in the open they risk harassment. Women are reluctant to talk about it or complain, but the world cannot continue to ignore this.

"Adequate sanitation, coupled with access to clean, safe water to drink, transforms lives, improving health, safety and productivity. Governments are urged to take action and invest in access to sanitation and water."

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.

Security came out as a recurring concern in the poll of women from slums in Lagos, with 67% of respondents saying they feel unsafe even using shared or community toilets in a public place.

Lack of decent sanitation also affects productivity and livelihoods. Women and girls living in developing countries without toilet facilities spend 97 billion hours each year finding a place to go in the open, according to figures released in a WaterAid briefing. This is double the total number of hours worked every year by the entire labour force in the UK.