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Water & Sanitation

Thank You Festival Action: Let's keep millions of girls in school

All children deserve to have a childhood protected from disease, violence and abuse free from gender barriers.

What does sanitation have to do with that?

Well, in many communities, women and girls are still burdened with the responsibility of collecting water.  Poor access to sanitation can make girls especially vulnerable - forcing them to skip classes or drop out when their schools do not have separate toilets for boys and girls - thus negatively affecting their education access and success. It is estimated that women and girls spend 97 billion hours a year looking for a place to go to the bathroom.

Women without access to sanitation suffer the indignity of being forced to defecate in the open and are at risk from rape and assault.

Additionally, disorders of the intestines, due to poor sanitation and fecal exposure, prevents absorption of essential nutrients for growth. The World Bank estimates that such disorders may be responsible for nearly 80% of malnutrition and stunting worldwide, dramatically reducing a child's chance of a healthy and productive life.

On average, studies from around the world suggest that shorter children become shorter adults who earn less money, achieve less of their cognitive potential, suffer worse health, and may even die sooner. This means that stunting among children is not merely a health issue, it is also an economic issue linked to poor access to sanitation.

Ensuring that  schools have adequate access to water supply, toilets, and a comfortable and convenient place to practice hand washing and good hygiene could help increase school enrollment, retention, and graduation rates, particularly among girls.

By calling on Congress to support the passage of the Water for the World Act, we have an amazing opportunity to increase access to water, toilets and hygiene education globally to some of the world's poorest children without spending any additional taxpayer dollars.   

There are two things you can do right now to help:

1) Sign the petition on this page to tell Congress to pass the Water for the World Act. This will ensure more people get the clean water they need, and it won’t cost the US an extra penny.

2) Click here to send a thank you tweet to Senator Durbin (D-IL). The Senator has been an important advocate for this issue. He needs to know we stand behind him.

Take all of the Thank You Festival actions here