Toilets in the outback were few and far between. After all, often buildings and people were few and far between. When they did come along, though, the toilets signs we saw had personality. With the exception of bathrooms around Uluru, the figures on the toilet signs were of white Australians, playing off of the ‘sheilas’ and ‘blokes’ theme. Maybe it was the image of the rough and tough outback explorer that sold well to the tourists, or maybe it was a deliberate political decision to ignore the original residents of those areas.
In northern Queensland, the toilet signs were typical.
Heading towards Alice Springs and Uluru, they began to gain more character.
Going north towards Darwin, the toilet signs were more tourist-oriented.
Maybe you’ve noticed I love talking about toilets. Spending most of my life in them, the time I am in them has become somewhat of a ritual. I appreciate their decorations, and more than anything I love a creative toilet sign. I am very grateful to have always had access to toilets, clean water, and education surrounding sanitation. Not all around the world are so lucky. In fact, over 2.4 billion people don’t have access to toilets or latrines. It is a human right to have access to sanitation and clean water, yet billions still don’t.
World Toilet Day is a United Nations sponsored day in recognition of the importance of sanitation and hygiene. Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals is to “ensure access to water and sanitation for all.” According to the U.N., “At least 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated.” This is due to lack of toilets, where contaminated wastewater is poured into water supplies and used for many things, including drinking and irrigation of crops. Over 1,000 children die daily due water and sanitation related diseases. Thus, there is a great necessity for World Toilet Day.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the U.N. reports that women and girls suffer even more. Lack of toilets means lack of privacy – and this puts them at risk for rape and abuse. I see a clear connection between the goals of International Women’s Day and World Toilet Day.
The United Nations encourages people to participate using the hashtag #wecantwait and to reflect on the relationship between clean water and nutrition.
To celebrate this day, I bring you photos of some of the best toilet signs I’ve seen during my current backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. Have you seen any great toilet signs? I love to see them- so if you come across any no matter where you are in the world, tweet them at me! (@yasminesoyyo)
Enjoy the photos, spread the word on World Toilet Day, and say #wecantwait for proper sanitation for all!
As someone with an undeniably small bladder, I am the butt of jokes, the object of surprise, and the point of concern for people who are convinced I am over-hydrated, have an over-active bladder, or even diabetes.
As far as I’m concerned none of the above are issues. It’s just who I am.
That being said, my bladder issues mean that I see my fair share of bathrooms. Actually, I’ve probably spent most of my life either waiting for a bathroom, in a bathroom, or thinking about either of those.
That’s why I’ve learned to appreciate the minute details about them. A lavender soap, soft toilet paper, aesthetically-pleasing vintage wallpaper, and even the caliber of entertainment the books often on a table nearby the toilet provide are all points of appreciation.
While walking the camino, I would choose to do my business outside as much as possible (check out an upcoming post for more information), but if I was forced to use the toilet, or the institutionalization of urination, I was pleasantly surprised to find very creative signs indicating the bathrooms (They were gender normative, but we can’t win them all).
These signs provided the entertainment and enjoyment as I was waiting for the bathroom. They have also inspired me to continue to be looking for creative signs and humorous depictions of our moments on the toilet.
Where have you seen the best bathroom signs? Tweet at me @yasminesoyyo!