Author: Jordan Teague

Celebrating Healthy Mothers on World Water Day

Today, March 22, is World Water Day. This international day to celebrate water has evolved over the years, since it was first recognized by the UN in 1993. It is only fitting that World Water Day shares a place in the same month as International Women’s Day, celebrated every year on March 8, as the two are so intertwined. The presence and quality of water plays a role in women’s lives throughout the world like no other resource. It can mean educational opportunities, job opportunities, healthy families, or none of that. Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) have important impacts on many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including poverty and hunger, child deaths, and environmental sustainability. Notably, WASH impacts maternal health in significant ways, as well. MDG target 5A seeks to “reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio,” and investing and supporting WASH programs can help do just that. While poor hygiene at childbirth is the most obvious factor in maternal deaths related to WASH, there are other ways it influences maternal health. Waterborne …

World Water Week and Women

2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation, and during World Water Week is a perfect time to examine what water means to women around the world. Leaders in the water sector will gather in Stockholm this week, to share successes, discuss challenges, and discuss the future of water programs. We can only hope that the participants keep in mind the population most affected by water – women. Improved access to clean water, for most, brings to mind good health and reduction of disease, but it means so much more. In the minds of those receiving a new water supply, time-saving and other social benefits are of greater importance. Women are the primary collectors of water in the developing world, spending on average six hours each day collecting water for their households, including carrying up to 40 pounds of water on their heads or backs. Women are also the primary caregiver in most households, and must spend time caring for family members and children who may get sick from contaminated water. Can you imagine a world …

Breaking All Barriers to Girls’ Education

Friday, July 12th, was Malala Yousafazi’s 16th birthday. Last October, Malala was shot by the Taliban for speaking out for girls’ education. They failed in their attempt to silence her. On Friday, she and students from over 80 countries lead the “United Nations Youth Takeover” with a global call to action for quality education for all children. Malala herself said: One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. Quality education for every child, every person, should be a right that all people have. Yet, 57 million children are not in school, while millions more are not getting quality education. In the days after Malala’s shooting, other families and young girls were afraid to go to school, and the classrooms remained empty. While these girls eventually went back to school, and grew in number, the terror continues. In June, a university bus carrying women teachers and students in Pakistan was bombed. But in other places around the world, these aren’t the barriers and challenges …

Menstrual Hygiene: Breaking the Silence

Menstruation should be a beautiful thing. It’s a universal experience for women and it’s a natural bodily process so that a woman can become pregnant, give birth, and raise the next generation of our world. So why is it such a taboo topic? Why are we ashamed? And why is it such a different experience for girls in places like Nepal and Tanzania than in developed countries? In the United States, companies like Kotex and Maxi-Pad have gone to great strides to make light of and break the taboo of menstruation, with commercials and advertising exposing men’s reactions to tampons, telling the truth about the ups and downs of girls’ periods, and using red liquid instead of the pale blue color that no one actually bleeds. In New York City, Kotex’s social experiment found that 40 percent of the men approached were afraid to buy tampons. One even offered to buy toilet paper instead! The real question is, why is this such a big issue? The second is, how can we expect people around the …

What WASH Means to Girls

I have the great honor of being an Auntie (they call me “TT”) to two precious children – Daniel and Lucy. I had the privilege of holding each of them when they were just hours old and being a part of their lives as they grow. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting and getting to know children in other countries, like Honduras and Ghana. I have seen the differences in the lives of those children and of my niece and nephew. I have seen the girls skipping school to carry 40 pounds of water on their heads. I have seen them vulnerable, searching for a place to go to the bathroom because there are no toilets. I have seen the girls and women who are sick from drinking contaminated water, unable to perform the plethora of daily tasks that are left to them. I can’t imagine my niece, Lucy, living in those conditions, and therefore I must imagine a better world where these girls do not have to either. Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) …