raising awareness

Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is United Nations’ Global Hand Washing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

Why does this matter?

We all know to wash our hands. However, according to the WHO/UNICEF State of the World’s Hand Hygiene | UNICEF report, despite the lifesaving benefits of hand hygiene, three out of ten people globally still lack a facility with water and soap available to wash their hands at home.

If everyone actually properly washed their hands it can help reduce the transmission of a range of diseases, here is how:
  • Handwashing with soap can reduce diarrheal diseases by 30%.
  • Handwashing with soap can reduce acute respiratory infections by up to 20%.
  • Handwashing with plays an important role in reducing the transmission of outbreak-related pathogens such as cholera, Ebola, shigellosis, SARS, hepatitis E, and COVID-19.
  • Hand hygiene is protective against healthcare-associated infections and reduces the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Hand hygiene may contribute to the reduction of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

For those living in the developed world, hand washing has become an everyday habit. We wash our hands after we use the toilet, we wash our hands before we eat. We all know the importance of hand washing.

However, in much of the developing world, proper hand washing, proper hand hygiene does not exist. And hence the critical importance of Global Hand Washing Day.

However, in the effort to bring about greater hand hygiene, too frequently we push for use of soaps which are chemical based, synthetic and toxic to our land and our water. The chemicals in these soaps eventually make their way down the drain and into our groundwater, our rivers and our environment. Therefore, the overdependence on synthetic chemical-based soaps is harmful for the environment, detrimental for our land, our water and our earth.

In service of healthy bodies and a healthy earth, at this time of Global Hand Washing Day, Faith for the Earth is partnering with Global Interfaith Wash Alliance in a special campaign to raise awareness about the importance of not only hand hygiene, but also the importance of using all natural, sustainable soaps. Natural, organic and eco-friendly soaps can be a powerful tool to expand our mission of health to include not only the health of our body but also the health of our waterways.

In alignment with SDG 5: Gender Equality, this is also a beautiful opportunity because, so frequently in so many of the villages and rural areas of developing nations, these handmade soaps are made by women in self-help groups.

Therefore, by choosing eco-friendly, sustainable, locally made soaps, we are not only keeping our hands clean and preventing the illnesses and ailments of un-sanitized hands but we are also protecting our planet, our earth, our water bodies and all of the species with whom we share the planet, working simultaneously towards SDG 3, 6 and 13. We also have the opportunity to empower rural women who are making these soaps for their livelihoods. So it’s a win-win-win situation for everyone.