Potty Parity: Summit to Discuss Lack of Women's Restrooms

Been there! Women wait in line to use an alternate restroom at Rockefeller Plaza in New York on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2003 in this file photo. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

So-called potty parity for men’s and women’s restrooms will be on the agenda at the eighth annual World Toilet Summit and Expo set to commence in Macau today.

The summit, organized by the World Toilet Organization (WTO) among others, will bring together United Nations agencies, civil society groups, industry pioneers, and other stakeholders in the international development community to discuss strategies for accelerating progress on worldwide sanitation issues.

The WTO and the International Code Council are also set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which will see the introduction of initiatives to promote global codes of practice for the design and construction of toilets.

The first of these initiatives, "Potty Parity," is to be debated at the event, and will look to review and address the ratio of female to male cubicles in public toilets.

The summit’s three-day agenda will focus on tackling the sanitation challenges of the world including promoting clean toilets in poor areas as well as improving hygiene standards in developing countries such as China and India.

Another attraction is also the summit exhibition which will feature toilet and sanitation solutions including a Sustainable Sanitation Pavilion exhibiting the latest dry toilet technology and processes and Portable Sanitation Pavilion showcasing self-contained portable washroom facilities.

Display of new sustainable technologies will be exhibited including innovations from self-cleaning toilets and solar-powered commodes that run without water, to recyclable systems which by converting waste into biogas can be used to provide hot water for bathing and washing purposes.

Leading names from the industry include platinum sponsor, Geberit Group, a European maker of flushing toilet and piping systems will also showcase their latest behind-the-wall toilet where only the bowl is visible.

The meeting also will address how to provide affordable, environmentally friendly and basic access to sanitation for the estimated 2.5 billion people in the world who still do not have access to a hygienic toilet, said WTO Founder Jack Sim. The United Nations has set a mandate to halve this figure by 2015 as part of its Millennium Development Goals.

"To work towards the goals with urgency, it is important to get the perspectives from all stakeholders and galvanize their support," Sim said.

A keynote address will feature His Royal Highness, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, chair of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation.

Delegates during the second day will be able to select from workshops that range from "Capacity Building" to "Sanitation Toilet Design, Technology and Application for Rural Landscapes," "Disaster Sanitation" and "Tourism Sanitation."

There will also be an opportunity for participants to visit nearby attractions, including the Ruins of St. Paul, Lotus Square, Taipa Houses Museum and the Macau Grand Prix track.

During the site visits, delegates will learn about the public toilets installed at these venues and related issues pertinent to their management, maintenance and upkeep.

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