World Toilet Day…at first glance, this seems like an unlikely candidate for a holiday and more like some sort of joke, but the day is nowhere as trivial or humorous as it may seem. All in all, it strives to draw attention to various sanitation issues around the world and work towards resolving them. 

Despite access to proper sanitation being declared a basic human right, one in three people across the globe, so some 2.5 billion people in total, do not have regular access to a toilet. Additionally, even amongst those who do have such access, unclean and unsafe toilets pose problems of their own, including contributing towards the spread of diseases like cholera, typhoid and hepatitis—in some parts of Africa, diarrhoea is one of the main child-killers.

Open defecation is also responsible for increasing the number of sexual assaults perpetrated on women and children. Furthermore, when young girls begin menstruating, the lack of privacy forces them to stay home from school, thus limiting their chances of getting a basic education and, what comes after that, a decent job in the future. World Toilet Day’s ultimate goal is to allow everyone on the planet to take care of their most basic needs without having to fear for their safety.

History of World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day was created by the World Toilet Organization in 2001. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations said: “We have a moral imperative to end open defecation and a duty to ensure women and girls are not at risk of assault and rape simply because they lack a sanitation facility.” 

He went on to talk about how having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity, and how women and girls risk rape and abuse as they wait until night falls to relieve themselves because they lack of access to a toilet that offers privacy. Another issue is that toilets generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly. 

Since its inception, World Toilet Day has played a vital role in challenging governments, businesses and other groups to make changes. It has also worked towards breaking various taboos surrounding the topic, in order to facilitate discussion and lead to the creation of better, safer solutions.

How to celebrate World Toilet Day

I think by now it’s been made abundantly clear that World Toilet Day is far from being a joke, dealing instead with the protection of one of humanity’s most basic rights. So how can you help? There are a number of things you could do. For starters, why not visit the World Toilet Day website, Facebook page or Twitter account and share the message across social media platforms?

This may seem like a tiny, unimportant gesture, but raising awareness about serious problems is one of the things social media does best, aside from bombarding you with pictures of babies and kittens. The more people know about a problem, the more money can be raised to fight it, as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so perfectly demonstrated. So don’t think your clicking “share” means nothing. It doesn’t.

Another thing you could do as a way of observing World Toilet Day Would be of course to make a donation, so if you have the means, know that every dollar helps.c

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