Health and wellbeing Taking a stand

Too many people are still missing out.

This issue relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals

  • 6 - clean water and sanitation

Average read time: 3 minutes

A young boy stands outside school toilets in India

Lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation and hygiene cause millions of preventable deaths each year – particularly among children.

Nearly 900 million people face the indignity of defecating in the open. 1.4 billion people lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home.

Mental health disorders continue to grow, dragging down individuals and bringing consequences for societies.

The numbers are staggering. And horrific.

Why in the 21st century are so many people still missing out on these basics? And why does inequality between those who have and those who have not continue to rise?

There’s got to be a solution

The World Health Organization estimates that tackling these interconnected issues has the potential to prevent at least 9% of global disease, and 6% of all deaths.

We know that people are healthier if they have access to basic necessities. But health isn’t just the absence of disease. Good health is holistic, encompassing physical, mental and social wellbeing. And wellbeing relies on a fairer, more inclusive society where everyone can take advantage of opportunities equally, without being held back by discrimination on grounds of race or gender or by social norms. We’re far from that today.

How can we address these inequalities?

We believe our products can make a contribution: we know our soaps, toothpastes and household cleaners can help prevent disease. Think about how the simple act of washing hands thoroughly can save lives, as highlighted all too starkly by Covid-19.

So-called ‘everyday’ products. But coupled with awareness they become powerful agents of change: washing your hands at the right occasions during the day; disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home to prevent the spread of germs; showing young people that they don’t need to feel anxious about their bodies; recognising all skin colours with products tailored to their needs. Or simply offering a cup of tea and a conversation to someone who’s lonely.

Close up shot of two women laughing against a red background

That’s what our brands with purpose do, pinpointing the insights and programmes that make a genuine impact. Coupled with the zeal to champion inclusion and lead for change by working with others – be they governments, NGOs or citizen movements to combat harmful norms. Dove’s campaign to end hair discrimination is a good example.

Finding effective ways to combat these inequalities is what drives us in our aim to be a business that’s positive for people and positive for the planet. Not just doing less harm – but doing much more good.