WHAT WOMEN WANT FOR THEIR NEXT GENERATION
FOR MOST WOMEN, BECOMING A MOTHER IS A TURNING POINT. IT IS NO LONGER JUST THEMSELVES THEY HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT; SUDDENLY THEY HAVE CHILDREN WHO ARE RELYING ON THEM AND THEY HAVE ALL THESE NEW WORRIES THAT THEY NEVER HAD BEFORE. AS IT TURNS OUT, MOTHERS WANT HEALTHY, STRONG AND SAFE CHILDREN. THIS IS A UNIVERSAL DESIRE FOR MOTHERS ALL AROUND THE WORLD.
But did you know that one billion people in the world today still do not have access to basic sanitation? Millions of women and girls are forced to relieve themselves in the open, and in doing so they risk fear, shame and even rape – something that no parent would want their children to be vulnerable to.
Toilets do more than provide a safe place to go, its helps to keep us healthy. Waste easily contaminates the environment, including hands, food and water supplies leading to diseases like diarrhoea. For children this not only results in sickness and days missed from school, it can lead to malnutrition, severe stunting of growth and even death. A huge 443 million school days are lost every year due to a lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene1. Moreover, somewhere in the world a child dies every two minutes because of diarrhea-related diseases due to poor sanitation2.
UNICEF and Domestos are working together to help children grow up healthy and strong, and to stay in school through UNICEF’s global sanitation programme. Run in more than 100 countries across the world, this programme promotes good sanitation and hygiene practices, and advances access to toilets for all. Domestos contributes 5% of sales of every specially marked bottle to UNICEF’s global sanitation programme3. Since the programme started four years ago, more than 69,000 school children have benefited from sanitation and hygiene education programmes in 260 schools, meaning fewer sick days and more children staying in school, leading to improved education.
Every day, UNICEF is working hard to make sure this number keeps going up so children are more likely to have a healthy future.
THE WOMEN MOULDING THE LIVES OF THE NEXT GENERATION:
ALRATINA, ALTHAWANI EAST VILLAGE, SUDAN:
Alratina is a young, vibrant woman from a remote area in the Sudan. After heart-breaking experiences of her own, she then went on to play a strong role in promoting latrine use in her village.
Before UNICEF’s sanitation programme began, there were no latrines in her village and women would only relieve themselves outdoors after sunset or before sunrise in the bushes.
One day, Alratina and several girlfriends went to defecate in the bushes outside their village and were disturbed by the presence of young men, among them Alratina’s fiancé, who looked upon her with disgust. When the girls arrived back at the village, their story had already caused great scandal.
To make matters worse, Alratina’s fiancé broke off their engagement. The incident was talked about for a long time, until the beginning of UNICEF’s sanitation programme.
Alratina became the first person in the village to build a latrine, and she later established a community fund to help the poorest households to pay for their own. By the end of the project, Alratina’s village became ‘open defecation free’ and the change in attitudes has been so remarkable that Alratina now believes no woman would marry without a latrine being constructed at her house. No children should grow up to face the same heartache and shame that Alratina did.
FATOUMATTA, 22, SAMI VILLAGE, CRR, THE GAMBIA:
Fatoumatta Jarra lives in the Central River Region of The Gambia and has made a great leap forward in improving the life of her young son, Mohammed, and fellow villagers.
She was selected by her peers to represent her village at the UNICEF global sanitation training back in 2013. Back then, although all five compounds that made up her village had toilets, these were exclusively for the use of elderly people, and other members of the community resorted to using the bushes around the area. Within a year of being triggered, Sami became a model village with every compound boasting two or more toilets.
To follow-up on this success and to reinforce other critical hygiene behaviours, the Ministry of Health, with technical and financial support from UNICEF, arranged to train young people from Sami and the surrounding communities.
“The training was very interesting for me,” said Fatoumatta. “It taught me many good things about how the people in my village can reduce diseases, especially those that our children suffer from the most, like diarrhoea. “I was eager to learn because I have a small son, Mohammed, and I want to be able to protect him from diseases.”
On returning home, Fatoumatta, fully armed with knowledge and information on hygiene and sanitation, called a community meeting to disseminate the information she had received, reinforcing the messages for sustained abandonment of open defecation.
“I’m very happy I went to the training,” says Fatoumatta, “because now I know a lot of things that I did not know before and I can look after Mohammed better.”
LEONORA, 29, BARANGAY POBLACION EAST, PHILIPPINES:
In 2013, Leonora was among those who joined other community members when UNICEF’s sanitation programme was run in their village – Sitio Pasayan of Barangay Poblacion East. After the visit, she and her family decided to build their own toilet. Leonora is now proud that her 5-year-old daughter, Jamaica, knows how to use a toilet. Although this may seem normal for a lot of people, for a family like Leonora’s it represents a significant investment and a dramatic shift in their behaviour.
UNICEF’s sanitation programmes, supported by Domestos and the Unilever Foundation,help people to understand what is possible and to redefine what should be ‘ordinary’ in their communities, so that having and using their own toilets becomes the new reality. Along with the fact that their children are more likely to have a healthy, bright future.
LOAN, 61, NUI KET, THOI SON, TINH BIEN, AN GIANG, VIETNAM:
As a grandmother, it is Loan’s role to ensure the safety of her family. After UNICEF visited her commune to educate on the importance of improved sanitation, she convinced her son to save up for a family toilet.
“When I learnt about how open defecation affected my family, I was actually very sick at the time, so I convinced my son to give me money for a latrine. Now the family are all very pleased and feel like they have a clean environment around,” says Loan.
It shows how a small thing such as a safe toilet can make a huge difference to people’s lives, and improve the lives of the next generation through education on clean sanitation.
1 Estimated with data from Diarrhoea: Why children are still dying and what can be done. UNICEF, WHO 2009
2 WHO/UNICEF JMP, Update on Drinking Water and sanitation, Update 2014
3 CRM donors & recipients of funding: India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, South Sudan, Brazil & Argentina