When women, girls and those who menstruate are denied their right to clean water and a decent toilet, they are denied dignity and privacy.

No toilets that lock properly. No adequate period products, or bins to put them in. No water to keep themselves clean.

All of these things are not only humiliating, but can also be unsafe for people on their period. Very often the embarrassment forces them to stay at home, instead of working or going to school.

Ultimately, it means millions of women and girls have fewer opportunities – and are disadvantaged at every stage of their lives.

In India, 52% of girls don't get any information about periods before they start menstruating.

(LSTH et al, 2016)

70% of girls in Afghanistan don't bathe when menstruating, for fear of becoming infertile.

(UNICEF, 2015)

During their period, 68% of girls in Bangladesh avoid being around men and boys.

(PSI, 2017)

How we tackle the problem

We encourage people to talk about periods openly – like in Vivian's WASH club at her school in Uganda, where students make their own period pads and talking about periods is openly encouraged.

WaterAid/ Eliza Powell

Open conversations mean children will grow up knowing how to manage their periods properly, as well as understanding they aren’t something to be ashamed of. We make sure boys and men are involved in conversations, to undo the stigma and taboos around periods.

At the same time we’re working with local partners to build vital facilities, like "female-friendly" toilets, as well as infrastructure for clean water, so that everyone on their period can stay clean and healthy.

Our work to empower children with disabilities in Nepal

People with disabilities, like Meena, face an extra layer of discrimination when they're menstruating. Our programme work helped those with intellectual impairments understand how to properly manage their periods, as well as improve their confidence.

WaterAid/Shruti Shrestha

Sisters of the moon

Hear from award-winning artist Poulomi Basu as she talks periods, power and protest in a new commission for WaterAid.

Read more about periods

Clean water and decent toilets may not be the most obvious necessities when it comes to periods, but our blogs highlight just how vital they are.