An enormous, white inflatable commode was erected on the front lawn of the United Nations headquarters on Wednesday.
Its purpose — to raise awareness about the lack of sanitation throughout the world.
In July 2013, the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to officially designate Nov. 19as World Toilet Day.
On Wednesday, a day ahead of World Toilet Day, as the plasticwhite john was blowing in the wind, passing tourists were handed leaflets that depicted Auguste Rodin’s world-renowned sculpture, “The Thinker,” with the motto, “Be a thinker and support World Toilet Day.”
As a show of solidarity for people without basic sanitation, the public is encouraged to strike the thinker pose, with a balled fist under their chin, and take a selfie. Concerned citizens are encouraged to post their “thinker” selfies on social media, with the hashtags #worldtoiletday and #wecantwait.
Out of the planet’s population of seven billion, 2.5 billion people still don’t use a basic toilet, and one billion people — 15 percent of the world’s population — do not have access to a toilet at all; and subsequently are forced to defecate out in the open. This puts women and girls at risk for rape, sexual harassment and abuse, because they do not have access to a ladies’ room that offers privacy, leaving them vulnerable and exposed.
The United Nations is alarmed and concerned about the slow and insufficient progress in improving access to basic sanitation facilities around the world.
According to UNICEF, 1,600 children die of diarrhea daily, and 25 percent of people on this planet are affected by intestinal worms. Diarrhea and worms are mostly preventable through clean toilets, safe water and improved hygiene.
While the mention of World Toilet Day (and wondering how the UN secretary-general plans on spending it), invariably causes giggling, the representativefor the secretary-general wants to assure the world, that not having access to proper sanitation is no laughing matter.