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world toilet day

1billion people worldwide practice open defecation, says United Nations

About  1 billion people in the world still practice open defecation, says the United Nations, which has also called on religious, education and opinion leaders in developing regions to join government officials and champion a halt the practice.
At UN Headquarters in New York marking World Toilet Day, coordinated by UN-Water, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson highlighted the health threat posed by lack of access to sanitation, and the particular dangers open defecation poses for women and girls.

Said Mr. Eliasson: “We know that political will at the highest level is critical to address these challenges. However, we also know that success at ending open defecation goes beyond infrastructure.  It requires the understanding of behaviors, cultural attitudes and social norms.”

“Throughout all life stages, women and girls bear the greatest burdens caused by the lack of toilet access. Girls are more likely to drop out of school if they don’t have access to a safe and clean toilet. Women and girls can also risk harassment and sexual abuse when trying to use public toilets or when trying to find somewhere to defecate in the open. Universal access to sanitation has a clear role to play in defending women’s safety, dignity and equality,” said Mr. Eliasson.

The Deputy Secretary-General, on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in March 2013 launched the Call to Action on Sanitation. This in turn inspired the UN’s End Open Defecation campaign created earlier this year (opendefecation.org; #opendefecation).

Said Chris Williams, Executive Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, a global membership organization hosted by the United Nations: “The active support and efforts of leaders of religion, education and public opinion are needed as much as that of elected and other government officials. We call on all leaders of societies and cultures where open defecation habits are still tolerated: Help us end the taboos associated with frank talk about the dangers of the practice and the benefits of proper sanitation and hygiene.” 
 
“A generation ago, the idea of smoke-free restaurants, theatres, airports, banks and other public places seemed improbable.  Attitudes were changed by the concerted focus of political leaders, health officials and advocates, and today the notion of sharing such spaces with smokers has become almost universally foreign. It is beyond time for all of humanity to have access to adequate toilets and to use them.”

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