Researches state that one in every three women; do not have access to safe toilets. With various issues arising from the lack of these basic facilities, the United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon said that “ensuring women’s access to safe toilets is ‘moral’ imperative.”
He also stated that one million people across the world defecate in the open to this date and that 340,000 children under five died from diarrheal diseases last year due to lack of basic hygiene facilities. The Secretary General added, “A staggering 1.25 billion women and girls would enjoy greater health and increased safety with improved sanitation. Evidence also shows safe and clean toilets encourage girls to stay in school.”
This year’s theme for the ‘World Toilet Day’, celebrated on 19th November, was Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation. India, being one of the countries where the practice is highly prevalent, has pledged to take steps towards ensuring better facilities for women.
As a part of the Swacch Bharat Abhyaan, the cleanliness drive launched on the 2nd of October this year, the government has pledged to build toilets for half of the country’s population without toilets, which will be 600 million people, by 2019. The drive has seen great support from celebrities and the general public alike.
According to a study by the World Bank, India is spending around $54 billion annually, in treatments for illnesses, early deaths and lost productivity due to poor sanitation. This has been a huge problem for women as several cases in the recent past have revealed that many women have been harassed when out in the fields at night.
Let’s hope that the government sticks to its promises and the women living in the country with the biggest open defecation problem in the world get some relief soon.