International Day of the Girl recognises challenges faced by girls across the world. This year, the focus is on the importance of education.

Education gives girls power and control over their lives, self-confidence and self-esteem, enabling them to realise their potential and escape poverty. However, living without taps or toilets can prevent girls from getting an education.

Ganga's story

Ganga, 14, pictured above, is just one of thousands of girls across the world whose education is disrupted because she doesn't have access to a safe tap or toilet.

Ganga goes to school at Shree Heera Thumlee Secondary School in Tosramkhola, Nepal. It's just ten minutes from her house, but every day before school Ganga gets up at 6am to collect water for her family from a river.

The path is steep and often misty, making it dangerous to walk on. She is often late for school and the dirty water makes her ill.

Why a lack of water and sanitation interrupts girls' education

  1. No time: Girls like Ganga usually start collecting water when they are toddlers. Throughout their childhood, they lose hours of their education every day travelling to and from unsafe sources of water.
  2. Poor health: Drinking unsafe water increases the risk of diarrhoea, cholera and other water-related diseases. These illnesses lead to even more time off school.
  3. Bad hygiene: During puberty, a lack of safe, private sanitation facilities means that girls are unable to manage their period safely or hygienically at school. This regular disruption often causes girls to drop out altogether.

Safe water and sanitation keeps girls healthy and in school. This makes them more likely to go on to further education, raise healthy families and gain the skills and knowledge needed to earn a better living.

Simple things like having a water point near home, a clean, private toilet at school, and access to sanitary pads, can transform girls' lives by keeping them in education, and provide the first steps out of poverty for whole families and communities.