Advancing Women's Equality with Reinvented Toilets
One of the many efforts that seeks to curb gender inequality is the reinvented toilet. Flush toiletsoften commonly used in the developed worldare unrealistic commodities for many developing countries due to a lack of land, energy, water, and money. Advanced sanitation systems often found in developed countries require vast amounts of money to build, maintain, and operate.
To combat the sanitation crisis, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiated the "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge" in 2011, which jumpstarted the development of new aspirational toilet prototypes that remove germs from the human waste, operate off the grid in terms of water supply, sewers, or electricity, and cost less than US $.05 cents per user per day.
As a next step, the Gates Foundation has teamed up with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Association Senegalaise de Normalisation (ASN), coordinators of the U.S. and Senegalese standardization systems, to take this work to the global stage as an international standard.
Technical experts from 32 countries worldwide, from a wide variety of backgrounds such as academia, government, and manufacturers, are currently participating in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Project Committee (PC) 305 on Sustainable Non-Sewered Sanitation Systems. The experts are tasked with writing ISO 30500, a voluntary consensus standard that will specify the general safety and performance requirements for the design and testing of sanitation systems that are not connected to a sewer. Expected publication date for the standard is August/Sept 2018.
Once published, ISO 30500 can provide a sound basis for the development of national or local regulation for non-sewered systems. The standard will reflect the consensus of regulators, manufacturers and users from across the world. It gives regulators the benefit of the consolidated opinion of experts without having to call on their services directly. It also enables regulators and government to tap into a constantly updated source of information and experiences. Most importantly, ISO 30500 will drive innovation, meaning better toilets will be available in areas where infrastructure such as plumbing, electricity, and water are not feasible.
Ultimately, the reinvented toilets and publication of ISO 30500 will improve sanitation worldwide, and not only save lives, but ensure greater dignity, privacy, and personal safetyand allow for greater equality for women and girls.
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We Can't Wait: A Report on Sanitation and Hygiene for Women and Girls (Domestos, WaterAid, WSSC)
Lack of sanitation for 2.4 billion people is undermining health improvements, (WHO, June 30, 2015)
Sanitation Fact Sheet (WHO, July 2017)
Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (UNICEF)