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Soap Saves Lives

This week, Girls’ Globe joined nearly 90 other influential organizations in signing a letter to the United Nations that calls for hygiene to be addressed as an indicator in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The initiative, jointly led by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW), comes at a pivotal moment before the forthcoming SDGs are finalized. PPPHW is an organization that works across sectors, borders and oceans to promote handwashing with soap, among other hygiene practices, and supports and encourages individuals worldwide to learn more about the importance of hygiene.  PPPHW serves as a catalyst in the global handwashing conversation and has a robust resource center on all topics, including menstruation, child health and hygiene in schools. I recently spoke with Hanna Woodburn, Acting Secretariat Director at PPPHW on the importance of hygiene and its impact on women and girls.

Why did PPPHW join with other organizations to write the letter?

We co-wrote this letter with others in the water, sanitation, and hygiene, commonly referred to as “WASH” sector because we believe that all three components of the acronym need to be addressed cohesively in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Synergies are capitalized upon when water, sanitation, and hygiene are all implemented together resulting in a greater health impact. Given the enormity of the SDGs, we need all the help we can get to reach big goals, and focusing on proven solutions, such as WASH can improve our chances of success.

Why is hygiene important for gender equality?

The inclusion of a hygiene indicator in the SDGs will help to raise the profile of this critical component of WASH. It will ensure that countries measure access to handwashing stations, which will allow us to hold countries accountable to their commitments. A lack of access to suitable handwashing stations and menstrual hygiene management facilities inhibits the ability of girls to attend school once they begin menstruating, which stymies their future educational achievements and earning potential. It simply is not right that girls should miss school due to an inability to manage their periods in a safe, private, and dignified manner. For women in many countries around the world, giving birth is dangerous, even deadly. Infections due to a lack of proper hygiene facilities and practices before birth further exacerbate this risk. Simple solutions, such as handwashing with soap, can save and improve the lives of women and girls around the globe, helping ensure they can live healthy and productive lives.

What can I do to support hygiene in the SDGs?

One great way for readers to be involved is to lend their voice to the cause. We have a petition of individuals who support hygiene, and would love to have the support of Girls’ Globe readers. Another excellent opportunity is Global Handwashing Day—held annually on October 15. By sharing messages about the importance of hygiene we can all work together to shine a greater spotlight on this crucial, but often overlooked topic.

Girls’ Globe has a growing network of bloggers and Featured Organizations working to promote clean, safe and healthy practices across the world. Read more about the work that these inspirational individuals are doing and how you can take action.

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