To be a girl - a deadly business

image of pupils with a branded 'To be a girl' bus expressing what they think girls should be


A national initiative to provide girls with basic human rights has touched the hearts of students at a County Durham school.

Northumbrian Water’s adopted international charity, WaterAid, is running a fundraising appeal, ‘To be a girl’, which highlights the plight of millions girls in the developing world who are suffering every day due to the lack of clean water, effective and safe sanitation and hygiene education.

After learning more about the campaign from staff at Northumbrian Water and WaterAid, students at Durham High School for Girls, which has 335 pupils and has supported the life-giving charity for more than five years, have agreed to sign up to the ‘To be a girl’ campaign to help prevent 700 girls from dying every day due to a lack of clean water and safe sanitation.

To kick-start their fundraising activity, 58 year-seven students, aged 11 and 12, organised a cake bake and have already raised £100.

The UK Government has agreed to match all money raised through this campaign by September 9 2014. The school’s money will be doubled (to £200) and will save 13 lives – it costs WaterAid and average of £15 to provide someone with clean water, effective and safe sanitation and hygiene education.

Eve Lodge, aged 12, said: “Our school has a charities committee which I have sat on for nine months and I think the committee is very important as students, as well as teachers, decide which charities we will support.

“It’s been really interesting to learn about the ‘To be a girl’ campaign and it makes me realise just how much I take having clean water and a toilet for granted. It’s just awful that some girls haven’t got anywhere safe to go to the toilet – they must be so embarrassed. It’s not fair that we’ve got rooms with 20 toilets in them! I am so pleased we can fundraise and support this campaign.”

Northumbrian WaterAid Chairman, Andrew Blakemore, said: “Life without access to clean water and toilets is tough for everyone, but girls and women are affected the most. Girls from as young as five years old spend hours every day, often in searing heat, collecting water which can weigh the same as their body weight. This water is often contaminated with diseases such as cholera or typhoid and will probably make their families very ill, or even worse, kill them. They have no choice. They are also subjected to violence and sexual assault when going to the toilet in the open.

“I am so proud that my employer , Northumbrian Water, has been a passionate supporter of WaterAid for more than 30 years now and that we had the opportunity to talk to students at Durham High School for Girls about ‘To be a girl’. It was fantastic to see how keen and passionate they are to give less fortunate girls who’re younger, the same age and older than themselves, dignity, an education and hope for the future – all by providing them with a tap, toilet and hygiene education. The ethos of the campaign fits so well with the school, as they seek to develop the potential of every pupil in all areas of life.”

Northumbrian Water is committed to supporting ‘To be a girl’ and recently raised £67,000 (which includes the government match funding) at their annual WaterAid Ball. This will save 4,466 lives. These vital funds were raised by hundreds of people who from across the region and Northumbrian WaterAid partners including Northumbrian Water Group, Esh Group, Fastflow Group UK, JN Bentley Ltd and Gowland & Dawson Construction Ltd.

‘To be a girl’ was launched by WaterAid in June by unveiling a series of shocking adverts on over 3,000 buses in the UK, including 160 in the North East. The adverts turn a traditional fairytale on its head and include the wording: Torture and strain and backbreaking pain; that’s what little girls are made for. Chest pains and sores and punishing chores; that’s what little girls are made for.

To watch a short film about the campaign, which is aiming to raise £1 million and change the lives of 130,000 girls, log onto

For further information contact Cara Charlton on 0191 301 6720.


WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 19.2 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 15.1 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit, follow @wateraidUK on Twitter or visit us on Facebook at

• Around 1,400 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
• 748 million people world live without safe water. This is roughly one in ten of the world′s population.
• 2.5 billion people have no access to sanitation; this equates to two in five people.
• For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
• Just £15 can enable one person to access a lasting supply of safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation.

About UK Aid Match

UK Aid Match was set up by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) to give a boost to public support for charities working in the developing world. It doubles public donations to appeals run by British international development charities, in recognition of both the public’s generosity and the wide range of causes they support.

We use cookies on our website. By continuing to browse our website, you are agreeing to use our cookies. Terms and Conditions