Out of order: why toilets are a feminist issue

2 min read
Out of Order exhibition images
WaterAid/Sibtain Haider/Nina Cosford/Josephine Dauda

From periods to childbirth, women need a decent toilet. But one in three women and girls around the world don't have access to a loo at all. This World Toilet Day, artists are showing us that toilets are a feminist issue. 

There are many times in a woman's life when she particularly needs a safe, private toilet. When she doesn't have one, the consequences are serious. Having a loo can mean the difference between living in dignity or shame, health or illness, between getting an education, or dropping out of school. Powerful, right?

This is why we invited female artists from the UK and Sierra Leone to create some unique and poignant artworks reflecting on what it means for a woman to live without a loo. They'll all be featured at our Out of Order art exhibition in East London this weekend.

While four rising stars of the UK art world, Eve Lloyd Knight – Emma Shoard, Molly Fairhurst and Nina Cosford – took over entire toilet cubicles to create their artworks, Josephine B Dauda and Hawa-Jane Bangura from Sierra Leone have contributed canvases to be displayed. And all this set to west African beats from WAYout arts group from Freetown.

The exhibition runs from 16-19 November. Register on Facebook to attend the free exhibition on London's Brick Lane > 

Women's toilet nightmare

Using new data from Unicef and the World Health Organization, our new report reveals the world's worst countries for women to go to the toilet, and the results are shocking.

In Ethiopia, 93% of the population don't have a decent, private toilet. That means that around 46 million women and girls – equivalent to the entire population of Spain – have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. And in India, 355 million women are in the same situation. Imagine them all standing in a queue – the queue would stretch around Earth 4.5 times.  

But change is happening. Many countries are putting toilets first and making huge progress; Laos comes top of the pile with 45% more people with their own loo than in 2000. That's nearly a million women and girls who now have a safe, private toilet. And Ethiopia has drastically reduced the number of people defecating in the open from 80% in 2000 to 27% today. 

We won't stop until every woman and girl has a toilet. You can help. Make a donation to WaterAid this winter and between now and 31 January, your donation will be matched by the UK government.