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Around the globe, 827,000 people approximately in low- and middle-income countries fall sick and ultimately die due to poor sanitation, hygiene and inadequate water supply. Of these deaths, around 432,000 are prone to fatal diseases due to poor sanitation.
Sanitation refers to the process of maintaining cleanliness and hygiene and also dealing/handling the sewage. In today’s world, around 2 billion people have no access to basic sanitation facilities, which is a bit more than a quarter of the world. For girls and women, these difficulties are immensely troublesome, making it a huge obstacle for women in the planet today.
According to the United Nations, “In 2016, one third of all primary schools lacked basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, affecting the education of millions of schoolchildren, but particularly girls managing menstruation, and one in four health-care facilities worldwide lacked basic water services, affecting more than 2 billion people.”
As per FIGO, the International Federation of Gynaecologists and Obstetrics, “An estimated eight percent of maternal deaths (and up to 15 percent in [low- and middle-income countries]) can be directly linked to unhygienic conditions during labour and birth and poor postnatal hygiene.”
From the information published by these organisations, we can understand how much vital sanitation and hygiene is for women. Women’s capability to reproduce makes them more in need for safe water, hygienic conditions and proper sanitation. When a woman becomes pregnant, access to all these can turn out to be a matter of life and death altogether. Around 15% of maternal deaths are due to infections which are affected during the first six weeks after childbirth, majorly due to lack of sanitation and weak infection control during delivery and labor.
For girls, menstruation has a high probability of concluding their education because most of the schools lack basic sanitation and hygiene resources. Most of the women do not know the importance of using hygienic sanitary napkins during their menstruation cycle which causes fungal and urinary infections, reproductive tract infections and also leads to infertility in women. Also, women in rural areas do not have any clue on safe sanitary pad disposal methods which also turn out to be major problem nowadays.
Most of the rural households do not have toilet facility in their houses which makes women more vulnerable to diseases due to unhygienic conditions. They are forced for open defecation and also they have to walk miles in order to collect water for sanitation purpose.
Access to good hygiene and proper sanitation is a basic human right. Everyone deserve the dignity of safe toilets, health facilities and privacy but this is exclusively true for women who are mostly affected and prone to the after effects of poor sanitation. For this we have to efficiently monitor whether women are getting their right of using toilets fulfilled and also increasing the financial resources for improving the sanitation facilities for women.
Government has to implement policies in order to make it compulsory for all the schools to provide basic toilet and sanitation facilities for children. Also they have to conduct training sessions for children to make them understand the importance of maintaining hygiene and sanitation throughout their lives especially girls. Ensure that appropriate sanitation services are provided to women while they are menstruating. By doing all this we can control the number of deaths happening due to poor sanitation and hygienic conditions and lead a better and healthy life.