“Girl Friendly” Toilets Help Girls Stay in School in Malawi

There’s something important that we use every day and that those of us in developed countries take for granted. Here’s a hint: it’s the best place for whatever went into your body to come out. Yes, it’s that wonderful pooping mechanism, the toilet. On World Toilet Day, we’re highlighting the portion of the world that lacks access to these incredibly useful devices. As with most development issues, girls and women are disproportionately impacted by lack of clean water and sanitation—of the 2.5 billion people without toilets, 1.25 billion are women. Clearly, it’s important to give a shit about how the world takes a shit.

That’s why we partnered with Show Me Campaign, founded by nine-time Grammy award-winning artist and philanthropist John Legend, to construct gender-separate latrines equipped with hand-washing stations at schools in the Earth Institute’s Millennium Village in Mwandama, Malawi. The funds you raised on Catapult in partnership with Chime for Change have already gone into the initial construction phase for this project. Below is an image of the first steps of one of the toilet pits.

Thankfully, toilets aren’t just for pooping. Girls need them, along with sanitary pads, to help manage their period—a sensitive issue that is often overlooked in developing countries. This project ensures that girls have access to toilets, pads, and education, to make having your period easier to deal with. Hygiene Clubs have already been established to offer education on menstrual hygiene for girls and personal hygiene for boys, to guide adolescents through physical and hormonal changes.

 “We have been experiencing a drop in attendance among older girls due to menstrual periods. Such girls feel discomfort and lack privacy, hence stay at home while missing lessons at school! With this project in my zone and at this school in particular, girls can continue with their education uninterrupted.” — Primary Education Advisor Mrs. Agatha Kalawa

The impact of toilets is evident. Though construction on the project is ongoing, with your help we’ve been able to lay the groundwork. On World Toilet Day, we wanted to not only highlight the importance of toilets for all, but also the role it plays for girls and women. Thanks for supporting girl-friendly latrines in Malawi with Catapult and Show Me Campaign—because every girl deserves a safe space to poop and manage her period.