World Women’s Day, held annually on March 8th, commemorates women’s rights and celebrates social, economic, cultural and political advances for women. We have been celebrating this event for over a century now. The 2018 theme #PressforProgress is the opportunity for us to make an inventory of societal changes in health.
Some key figures:
Studies report a close link between poor health infrastructure and gender inequality. According to a 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) study, 946 million people worldwide live without adequate health facilities and have no choice but to defecate in the open air. The lack of sanitation is particularly damaging for women as it makes them vulnerable to assault. Added to this is the fact that during the menstrual periods, they are forced to miss school and thus continue the domino effect even in the corridors of work where female absenteeism is very high and productivity is low.
The “Reinvent the toilet” program, launched in 2011 through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was the starting point for an extensive global consultation for innovative and environmentally friendly toilet solutions. The aim was to provide toilets that address the problems inherent in developing countries, namely: access to energy, water resources and financial means. The University of Technology of California (#CALTECH) won first place in the contest. Today, it is based on CALTECH’s wastewater treatment technology that we have developed our technology and are developing R & D.
In parallel, we also take part in the discussions on ISO 30500, being a member of project committee 305 on Sustainable Non-sewered Sanitation Systems. The goal is to arrive by next fall to draft an international standard on safety and performance criteria for the design and testing of sanitary systems not connected to the sewer system. We are actively involved in these discussions and we are deeply convinced that our work makes sense and by allowing these rural areas, where the current infrastructure does not allow access to a plumbing, electricity and sustainable water network to benefit from adequate toilets, we help to fight against poverty and contribute to the improvement of gender equality.