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What do you think of when you consider the resources that a school in Honduras or Haiti needs? Textbooks? Pencils? More teachers? Uniforms?
What about a toilet?
According to UNICEF, safe sanitation is as crucial to quality education as good teachers, notebooks and pens. But the need for a toilet is often overlooked in some of the most resource-poor and underfunded schools in the developing world.
While the effects of inadequate sanitation in schools impact all children, these challenges hit girls hardest. Without a safe, private place to go the bathroom, girls’ attendance rates decline, especially when they are menstruating.
Worldwide, there are as many as 113 million children not in school, and 60 percent of them are girls. The Guardian reports that this deficit has a serious effect on a the welfare of a country: for every 10 percent increase in female literacy, there is a correlated increase of 10 percent in life expectancy at birth, and around 0.3 percent of economic growth.
October 11th is the International Day of the Girl – a UN recognized time to acknowledge girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. This year’s theme, Innovating for Girls’ Education, seeks to bring to the world’s consciousness the significant positive development impacts that come with girls’ education.
And a key ingredient to improving girls’ access to school and continued attendance is the dignity of safe sanitation and feminine hygiene education. Pure Water for the World is working hard to ensure that each school in PWW project communities has enough safe, clean and private toilets so that each student – and especially each girl – feels safe, comfortable and ready to learn.