Nica Richards

By Nica Richards


Ladies, prepare for a standing ovation at the urinal

Female urinals can save water and eliminate tragic pit toilet deaths.

Waterless technology company LiquidGold has found a way to save water, improve sanitation and maintain dignity. Presenting the ‘Weestand’ (We Stand), a female-friendly urinal that saves up to 9% of water per flush.

According to a recent study published by the Water Research Commission (WRC), female urinals could be an option to reduce queues in public places. Urinals are also a welcome, safe option to replace pit toilets in schools.

Image: WRC female urinals study

Although this is a somewhat outlandish and comedic concept, urinals replacing toilets in public places may actually not be such a bad idea.

The WRC explains that urinals significantly reduce exposure to disease, as there is no direct with a toilet seat or flush handles.

In addition, urinals are one-size-fits-all. They also reduce odour, as urine is completely eliminated from the pit. They also result in drier sludge, making it easier to manually empty the urinal that cleaning a pit toilet. Burdens on toilets will also be eased, as toilets can be used strictly for defecation, and urinals for urinating.

Urinals are also easily assembled, and can be an economic alternative while toilets at school facilities are improved.

And lastly, urinals are said to drastically reduce waiting times and toilet queues for ladies.

To test the above theories, the WRC piloted the Weestand at various primary schools. It suggested that urinal stalls for older girls should also include a bin and water source as a way to keep clean during menstruation.

Image: Business Insider SA website/WRC

In their study, it was found that 47% of students found the female urinal to be ‘excellent’, while a decent 32% thought it was ‘pretty good’. The students cited the main reason for their experience as being the cleanliness of the urinal.

With the current toilet ratio at one toilet per 36 girls, and one toilet per 37 boys, it means the need for an effective alternative is pretty dire. And this alternative could come from the Weestand, or something similar.

“If urinals are provided for girls, girls will be forced much less frequently to use pit or full-flush toilets, which at schools, often put their health and safety at risk,” the study explains.

Another added bonus is that urinals also aid in addressing gender inequality.

The WRC’s study concludes by stating that the benefits outweigh the time it may take to get used to the idea of women now using a very similar, traditionally masculine means of using the toilet. However, with the country’s current statistics in the toilet, pit toilet deaths and horrific health hazards, embracing the urinal should be a no-brainer.

Female urinals are not a new idea, and South Africa is not the first country to embrace the idea. It can be argued that these drew inspiration from bidets, which are traditionally used to help clean off after toilet use. Islamic toilets also use a similar concept, namely to squat over a toilet-like device in the ground.

Last year, Berlin’s state government created a 99-page “toilet concept”, which seeks to create a nondiscriminatory way to relive nature’s call.

Berlin’s gender-neutral urinals. Image: Getty Images

“In the future, urinals which can be used by all genders should be offered,” reads the paper.

However, it is not just gender stereotypes and queues that the concept is trying to break. The paper explains that good visibility, a well-lit exterior, an emergency alarm and non-discriminatory pictograms should be included in the future ‘Berliner toilet’.

It was also found that gender-neutral toilets will save water, after a survey that showed that women flush public toilets up to three times in one sitting.

Another platform that has embraced female urinals is festivals, where queues are notoriously long and toilet conditions rather deplorable.

Inventions such as the ‘Shewee’ have also flown off the shelves, originally for women to urinate more freely in the great outdoors.

Image: Twitter/@OurLoos

It’s safe to say that the way women urinate may be changing, and may be to our benefit. Backlash has inevitably been received from many who find devices such as female urinals and Shewees to be cumbersome and unnecessary.

But changing landscapes, budget constraints and limited water supplies may force this change to come sooner than expected, and a bit of fun can be had while we get used to stretching leg muscles.

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