With the World Toilet Day just two days away, WaterAid India kick-started the campaign with a Facebook Live on November 17, to discuss #Toilets4All and why are toilets important for women and adolescent girls.
Joining the conversation today was Sohini Bhattacharya from Breakthrough India, Geetha Nambisan from JAGORI, Avani Kapur from Accountability Initiative, and Mamata Dash from WaterAid India. The context of today’s discussion was set around WaterAid’s recent report – “Out of Order” highlighting the importance of sanitation for women and girls in our country.
The panellists shared their experiences from the field, as they remembered the time when scouting for toilets was the most worrisome and terrifying moments of realising that defecating in the open was normalised in various settings. Issues such as violence associated with the lack of toilets were also discussed as the panellists unanimously agreed girls and women are often faced with extremely difficult and challenging realities in terms of sanitation provisions. It was also reiterated that sanitation needs for women and girls are different at different life stages such as the needs for a young girl would be different from a pregnant woman and/or a woman in old age. The deplorable conditions of public toilets do not necessarily provide a safety net for women and girls to use it with privacy and dignity. The importance of inclusive planning and implementation was highlighted by the panellists and the need to focus the behaviour change communication for inclusive and accessible sanitation for all and not just women was emphasised in the discussion.
The discussion ended on a very important note that working towards the goal of making India open defecation free should not be just about completing the project, but also to have the process in place for long-term solutions.