The straight poop

The Coast - - THIS WEEK - — Sherry Mo­ran, via email — Franny Beckow, via email

Novem­ber 19 was World Toi­let Day. Wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene is­sues should speak to all of us, but es­pe­cially politi­cians.

The Lib­er­als are proud of their fem­i­nist in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance pol­icy and sup­port for gen­der equal­ity in Canada and abroad, but should be very con­cerned that for al­most 900 mil­lion peo­ple, the only place to go is out­side. Par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous for women and girls as they are of­ten sex­u­ally at­tacked. One out of three schools in the world have no toi­lets so girls in par­tic­u­lar stop show­ing up in their teens.

The num­ber of chil­dren un­der the age of five dy­ing each year has more than halved thanks to the Con­ser­va­tive’s 2010 ma­ter­nal, new­born and child health ini­tia­tive. But moth­ers are still giv­ing birth in hos­pi­tals that have no run­ning wa­ter and no toi­lets. It is not sur­pris­ing that this poor san­i­ta­tion leads to a new­born dy­ing ev­ery minute and sep­sis ac­count­ing for 11 per­cent of ma­ter­nal deaths.

I am ask­ing you to chal­lenge all po­lit­i­cal par­ties to outdo each other in pre­par­ing a Cana­dian aid pol­icy that ad­dresses these needs as part of their 2019 elec­tion plat­form.

Ev­ery­body poops, it’s a uni­ver­sal hu­man re­al­ity. But al­most a bil­lion peo­ple have no choice but to do so in the out­side. Aside from the lack of dig­nity, this places women at risk of vi­o­lence as they seek the cover of dark­ness alone. Such lack of san­i­ta­tion also leads to wide­spread con­tam­i­na­tion of drink­ing wa­ter, and in­cal­cu­la­ble death and dis­ease.

No­body likes to talk about poop, and maybe that’s why World Toi­let Day has come and gone with lit­tle ac­knowl­edge­ment in the me­dia. Per­haps that’s also why only one per­cent of Canada’s for­eign aid goes to­wards san­i­ta­tion, but squeamish­ness about a nec­es­sary life func­tion is no rea­son to ig­nore san­i­ta­tion as a crit­i­cal fo­cus for aid.

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