Seven lessons every mom wants to tell her daughter

Shamoli Basak, 14 with her mother Sugha Rani, former Union Parishad (union council - local government) member,  37 - has 2 daughters and 2 sons. Khadim Estate, Sylhet. Photo: Abir Abdullah/WaterAid

There is a future for you when we have clean water and toilets.

Every mom probably remembers life as a little girl, the many struggles as a teenager, and the excitement and challenges of stepping independently into the world as a woman. For most of us, what we learned from our moms gave us the foundation of strength, wisdom and encouragement we needed to build our dreams and make them a reality.

I’m sure we all want our daughters to grow up healthy and confident but the truth is, not every mom can pass on the most basic life lessons to their daughters. For moms with daughters growing up without access to safe water and toilets, these important lessons are really just a hope for the future – but it’s a future that’s attainable when water and toilets are too. 

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But what do you say when the only water to drink comes from a dirty water hole shared with animals? 

Tell her: You won’t need to carry water your whole life. When we get safe, clean water near our home you will feel healthier.

A Tanzanian female student holding an award.

© WaterAid/ Marco Betti

But what do you say to your daughter who doesn't have time for school because she spends hours each day collecting water for the family?

Tell her: There is a future for you when we have clean water and toilets. Then you will be able to use your time to go to school.

Female students in Madagascar washing their hands.

© WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

But what would you say when preparing food relies on the precious little water she struggled to carry home and there is no water left for washing hands?

Tell her: We will have better hygiene and stay healthier when safe, clean water is nearby.

A mother washing vegetables in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

© WaterAid/ Charlie Bibby

But what do you tell your daughter when there is not enough water to grow sufficient food?

Tell her: When we have enough water and time to grow food and prepare healthy meals, you will develop into a strong, capable woman with a brighter future.

A teenage girl walking alone after dark in India

© WaterAid/ Poulomi Basu

But what do you say when there is no toilet at home and your daughter must retreat into darkness late at night in search of a place to go to the bathroom?

Tell her: When we have a bathroom at home you will no longer be at risk of attack when you search for privacy.

Two Nepalese teenage girls

© WaterAid/ Marco Betti

But what would you tell her when you live in a place where menstruation is considered unclean and there are no sanitation facilities or privacy to manage her personal hygiene? 

Tell her: When we have safe toilets for women and girls, you will go to school with dignity. 

A girl in Nigeria carrying a bucket of water.

© WaterAid/ Suzanne Porter

But what do you say to your daughter when her back and neck are strained and tired after carrying heavy jerry cans of water? 

Tell her: When you no longer have to carry water every day, you will stand straight and tall. Use your strength to make different choices in your life and fulfill your dreams for the future.