We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services and facilitate web usage by analysing your browsing preferences. By continuing to browse, you accept the use of these cookies. You can get more information, or find out how to change the settings, in our use of cookies policy.

© Frederic Courbet

“My toilet: stories of women and girls from all over the world,” the bathroom as a vital narrative

May 10, 2016
  • The photographic exhibition reveals 35 stories of women and their bathrooms.
  • Organised by the We Are Water Foundation and curated by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, it can be visited from the 10th May to the 31st July at the Roca Barcelona Gallery.
  • The images show in strong contrast the vital relationship of different women around the world with their bathroom spaces. 

Entering a bathroom is a regular action, even a routine, for those of us who have always had one in our home. This is not the case for 2.4 billion people, who lack basic toilet facilities. For all of them the access to this basic sanitation facility is a human right they do not have, preventing them from leading a healthy and decent life. Women and girls are the ones who bear the brunt: their needs for privacy and hygiene are greater, and their vulnerability gives a special meaning to the toilet space; a meaning full of intimate feelings that create a delicate and apparently indecipherable world. At the photographic exhibition My toilet: stories of women and girls from all over the world, the images show what words are not able to express. 

The exhibition is organised by the We Are Water Foundation and it is curated by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) at the Roca Barcelona Gallery. It was presented for the first time in London in November 2014 as the result of the collaboration between WSPU and the photographic agency Panos Pictures, proving very successful with the public and international critics. 

The exhibition is made up of 35 excellent portraits that express by themselves intense testimonies of women from different countries. The images transmit a striking reality due to the contrasts they show and their enormous documentary value. The texts that appear with the photographs complement the stories of a daily reality that can be extended to millions of people around the world.

 In the most vulnerable areas, this reality is marked by the possibility of having a toilet and sanitation, not at home, but in the proximity. In the more developed countries, having a bathroom at home has been something obvious only for the last two or three decades; however, even for those women who can enjoy having one, this space has acquired a special meaning, this is how they have integrated it in their lives and this is how the images reflect it masterfully.

 The exhibition, which takes up all spaces within the Gallery, shows images and stories of women and girls from all continents in which it is possible to appreciate the intense vital relationship they have with the toilet space. Although it is full of cultural nuances, this relationship becomes a recurring issue, regardless of the type of installation and its physical and human geography. 

Many photographs transmit a socially conscientious spirit as they mix concepts such as the quality of life and pure survival. For many families that need to fight for water, sanitation is a service that seems very distant. The possibility of having access to water at home is a responsibility that generally lies with women and girls, with all the social consequences this entails. But it is evident that the access and use of a bathroom is what has the highest impact on the dignity and quality of their lives. Having a toilet means having a better opportunity in terms of hygiene, education, employment and safety.

 My toilet: stories of women and girls from all over the world is an enrichment opportunity not only for photography and art fans, but also for those of us who see reflection as a way to improve our lives and those of other people. In this way the exhibition, which creates a real and unique tribute to the bathroom, invites us to address this space from a deeper perspective than usual.

An awareness raising initiative

 With this exhibition the We Are Water Foundation joins the initiative led by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor with the aim of raising social awareness of the lack of suitable sanitation. This situation affects a third of the planet´s population, with women and girls being the most vulnerable and sometimes invisible sector. This initiative is a part of the campaign #NoWalking4Water launched by the Foundation to celebrate World Water Day 2016, on the 22nd March. 

Visit this exhibition at the Roca Barcelona Gallery, from the 10th May to the 31st July. Joan Güell Street, 211-213, 08028 Barcelona Tel. +34 93 366 12 12. More information at info.barcelonagallery@roca.net