Sanitation can improve girls’ education: Azizah
Improving sanitation would have a profound impact on education for girls, said Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun. She said that in some countries, many young girls stop going to school after reachingpuberty simply because there are no proper toilet facilities. “According to UNICEF, school enrolment and retention rates for girls will rise when there are appropriate toilets and bathrooms for them to use, especially when they reach puberty,” she said after.opening the Public Seminar on the Importance of Malaysian Standards (MS) and Their Applications at Promenade Hotel here yesterday. Up to two-thirds of children in some schools in poor regions are infested with worms and are unable to concentrate and learn effectively, she said. Azizah added that safety issues are important for women and children who risk sexual harassment and assault when defecating at night and in secluded areas, adding there are 1.3 billion women and girls in the developing world who do not have access to basic sanitation. “Sanitation is vital for human health, generates economic benefits and contributes to dignity and social development. It has become a major gender equality issue in poor regions of many countries, including ours to some extent,” Azizah said. She added that the disabled and the elderly also face problems of access to public toilets. “Based on the nature of the problems faced by Malaysians, the Department of Standards Malaysia developed the MS Series on Public Toilets which was published in 2006. “Since the MS Series op Public Toilet also focusses on Accessible Design, it is one of the most important standards for people with disabilities because lack of accessible toilet rooms can lead to physical discomfort and embarrassment,” she said. Azizah added that the need to go long distances to use a toilet also reduces the time available for productive work for people with disabilities, who make up 10 percent of the population in Malaysia. “Toilets and basic hygiene facilities can also significantly improve the quality of life and survival rates of people suffering from major diseases such as HIV and AIDS as well as making it easier for those who care for them. “Therefore I believe that improving sanitation can also create physical environments that enhance safety, dignity and self- esteem,” she said. Also present during the event were Malaysian Association of Standards Users President Datuk Marimuthu Nadason and Strategic Management ,Department of Standards Malaysia Director Rafaiq Bakri Zakaria.