By Devika Mittal:
“Naari ki shiksha matlab Samaj Ki shikhsha”
This is how the Government propagates education for women. Women’s education or ‘empowerment’ is said to be the prosperity of the society, of the country. There are thousands of government-run co-ed as well as all-girls’ schools. Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Government has tried to ‘widen’ the scope. Though the literacy rate among females has increased but the increase is not very sharp. Girls drop out of schools after attaining puberty. The answer seems very obvious… Social attitudes of course! Well, though it is there but there is another shocking constraint – lack of separate toilets for girls.
The Annual Status of Education Report (AESR), 2009 reported that only 50% of government schools have toilets and that four out of 10 schools do not have separate toilets for girls. Even where there were separate toilets, they were either locked or were not usable.
Having no place to relieve themselves, they are forced to make use of open spaces. This cannot only be humiliating but it also makes them prone to sexual assault. It is even more problematic for older girls. Not having access to toilets when one is down is a nightmare for every girl. Thus, they are left with no other option. Dirty toilets are even more dangerous. Due to poor sanitation conditions, they can contract diarrhea, cholera and urinary diseases.
How can the Government not have separate toilets for girls? How can it be so insensitive? Sanitation is a basic thing. Infact, It is one of the concepts that the school tries to impart. What is the reason for this negligence? And most importantly, what about those grand slogans now? Women are not even ‘recognized’… Let alone their education and ‘empowerment’.