Today is World Toilet Day. There are global events being held to raise awareness of the fact that billions of people lack access to basic sanitation. This lack of sanitation disproportionately impacts women due to biological realities of menstruation (and the consequences thereof), pregnancy (and the consequences thereof), and the risk of sexual violence.
These are some of the articles we recommend:
The Everyday Sexism of Women Waiting in Public Toilet Lines by Soraya Chemaly
If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve a) spent time fidgeting in a long line waiting to use a public toilet, b) delayed a bodily function because you don’t want to or haven’t the time to waste standing in line to use a public toilet, c) considered sneaking into a men’s room—illegal in some places, or d) cursed loudly because of all of the above.
Faced with a long restroom line that spiraled up and around a circular stairwell at a recent museum visit, I opted not to wait. Why do we put up with this? This isn’t a minor pet peeve, but a serious question. Despite years of “potty parity” laws, women are still forced to stand in lines at malls, schools, stadiums, concerts, fair grounds, theme parks, and other crowded public spaces. This is frustrating, uncomfortable, and, in some circumstances, humiliating. It’s also a form of discrimination, as it disproportionately affects women. …
Are toilets a feminist issue? by Erika Christakis
Urination isn’t one of the first words that leaps to mind when people think of civil rights, but activists in Mumbai have launched a new campaign called the “Right to Pee” to redress gross inequities in the allocation of public restrooms. In New Delhi, for example, according to the New York Times, there are more than 1,500 public restrooms for men and only 132 for women.
The burden of bad sanitation affects almost all poor people but it falls disproportionately on females: in urban areas, there is a fee for most public washrooms, but men can use urinals for free and they frequently relieve themselves in public when facilities are lacking. In rural areas, where most people have to defecate openly, women are often subject to harassment or assault when they relieve themselves. To avoid the need to urinate, they often withhold hydration, a practice resulting in high rates of urinary-tract infections, heatstroke and other health problems. And coping with menstruation in the absence of privacy, water or sanitary products can be a nightmare. …