Written by WSSCC and originally published in the Guardian Global Development Professionals Network
First Ladies and leading international women call for water, sanitation and hygiene to feature in the sustainable development goals
(Left to right) Geeta Rao Gupta, deputy executive director (programmes), Unicef; Alice Albright, CEO, Global Partnership for Education; Gertrude Maseko, First Lady of Malawi; Voahangy Rajaonarimampianina, First Lady of Madagascar; Dr Kamal Kar, chairman, CLTS Foundation; Junaid Ahmad, senior director, World Bank Group on Water Global Practice. Photograph: WSSCC
A declaration on sanitation and hygiene was launched for World Earth Day. Launched by the Global Poverty Project, an anti-poverty youth advocacy group, the declaration was signed by 44 influential women from global leadership, media, and powerful organisations around the world.
The declaration calls on politicians and decision-makers in the health sector to recognise the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and to commit to improving access for all those living without access to clean water and adequate sanitation.
Specifically, the declaration stipulates that the sustainable development goals must include targets and indicators aimed at:
- Ensuring universal and sustainable access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene in every home, school and health facility.
- Ending open defecation by 2030.
- Reducing the amount of untreated faecal waste released into the environment
- Linking water, sanitation and hygiene access to outcomes in related areas, such as universal health coverage, reduced child mortality and increased gender equality and women’s empowerment.
WSSCC was instrumental in securing commitments from many of these famous ladies, in order to advance the agenda of global development and secure commitments for the 2.5 billion people living without access to improved sanitation, the 1 billion people who currently defecate in the open each day, and the 748 million people who live without access to clean water.
Led by the First Lady of Malawi, Her Excellency Gertrude Maseko Mutharika, and the First Lady of Madagascar, Her Excellency Voahangy Rajaonarimampianina, the declaration outlines why water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are so important for women all around the world.
Many notable policymakers and leaders attended the unveiling of the declaration at the National Geographic Society in Washington DC on 16 April, including the First Ladies of Malawi and Madagascar, Isha Sesay of CNN International, Chris Williams of WSSCC, Kamal Kar of the CLTS Foundation, and Alice Albright of the Global Partnership for Education.