The STARS Project
The School Toilet Access and Responsible Sanitation Project
How can you solve a problem if you can’t even talk about it?
“We need to end the taboos, euphemisms, stigma, and silence that surround toilet access issues. In doing so, we work towards mainstreaming critical discussions about toilets, menstruation, hygiene and clean water. By normalizing the conversation, we hope to eliminate the barriers faced by decision makers when addressing toilet access and create a dialogue that puts toilets at the centre of social and economic development.”
-Kanika Thakar, #ToiletTalk
Imagine going to a school without any toilets.
“Where would you go?”
Shockingly, this is the unfortunate reality for nearly half of the world’s schools. Over 600 million children lack clean water, toilets and hand washing facilities at their schools, putting their health, dignity, and safety at grave risk.
A lack of proper hygiene facilities further discourages students, particularly girls, from attending school. Day to day, girls forgo eating and drinking during school hours just to avoid the harassment involved with having to relieve themselves in the open. Girls can miss as much as 40% of the school year due to a lack of a discrete space to relieve themselves and manage their periods. Many girls drop out entirely once they reach puberty.
Ensuring that children attend school and complete their education is crucial to a country’s progress. In developing countries, education and access to clean water and sanitation are amongst the five pillars of sustainable development (education, access to clean water & sanitation, access to health care, food security, economic opportunity) required to empower communities to end their cycle of poverty.
But the lack of school toilets and sanitation is just a reflection of an even bigger problem. The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide, 2.8 billion people live without access to a toilet, 4.5 billion people live without safely managed sanitation, and some 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated.
MapleWishes was conceived with the notion that we are all ultimately responsible for our communities and the people with whom we share them. Realizing that the idea of community extends far beyond our doors and geographical boundaries, we are partnering with #toilettalk and Me to We to develop a sustainable school toilet access project. The project strives to go beyond simply building school toilet blocks and hand-washing stations. With the goal of ensuring sustainability long after the toilet blocks have been built, the project will provide community members with hygiene and menstrual management education that underlines the health and environmental benefits of safely managed sanitation.
As girls growing up in a first-world community where education and access to water and a toilet are luxuries we take for granted, we feel compelled to help make the same a reality for every girl, everywhere.
Stay tuned for thestarsproject.com