Happy International Women’s Day!
On March 8th we celebrate International Women’s Day! This day serves as a rallying call for gender equality and women’s rights around the world, and urges all of us to advocate for the empowerment of all women and girls.
We live in a world where women earn 23% less than men globally, and where nearly 60% of women around the world work in the informal economy – earning less, saving less and at greater risk of falling into poverty. Gender equality is central to all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, is no exception. According to the UN: “women and girls play a central role in the provision, management and safeguarding of household water and sanitation. Addressing water and sanitation needs of women benefits the health and well-being of entire communities” (UN Women). It’s critical that we take real action to remove the burdens and everyday barriers for women and girls in order to fully participate in equitable opportunities for advancement, including: education, health, and the labor force.
At SOIL, women’s voices are at the forefront of our work. As a women-led social enterprise, we’re committed to gender equity in livelihood creation and in hiring women in all positions, making a significant effort to recruit female employees. We also recognize that employment in sanitation is perceived to be a predominantly male-dominated role that comes with its own stigmatization. However, the SOIL team is fiercely determined to tear down the gendered stereotypes around sanitation work and take an active role in dismantling the sexist structures that have prevented women from entering into and persisting in often male-dominated fields. We further feel that women are uniquely qualified and effective in these positions because of their central role in managing all of the responsibilities of their household, including sanitation, water and hygiene and we remain keenly focused on supporting women entering into this field.
Providing Safety and Security
In Haiti and other developing countries, the burden of not having access to sanitation falls most heavily on women. And, inevitably, they take on a disproportionate amount of risk when it comes to sanitation and finding a safe place to relieve themselves. Having access to an in-home toilet significantly increases the safety and security of women and girls, especially at night. A 2013 study conducted by SOIL and Stanford University, found that prior to having a SOIL toilet, only 30% of our customers reported feeling safe from physical or sexual assault when using their primary sanitation option. However, after joining SOIL’s service, 91% reported feeling safe.
If women don’t have to venture outside of the home to relieve themselves, their chance of being shamed, harassed, or assaulted decreases. When girls have hygienic bathrooms, they are more likely to go to school while menstruating. And when women don’t have to spend time finding a place for them and their children to go, they have more time overall, and their family is healthier and happier as a result.
Today and every day, we pledge to support women’s rights and gender equality by fighting for every woman to have access to safe and dignified sanitation, and so much more.
SOIL depends on individual donations from people like you to fund our lifesaving, earth-restoring sanitation services in Haiti. Please consider supporting SOIL today.
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