The grand eight-hours long Mission Swachhta Aur Paani Telethon by Network 18 and Harpic on the occasion of World Toilet Day, November 19, laid a special emphasis on the role of women as change-makers for inclusive and sustainable sanitation.
Women celebrities, activists and grassroots workers including actors Neha Dhupia, Dia Mirza and social media influencer Shraddha among others, shared their vision of how small efforts by women can bring a significant change toward access to water and safe sanitation.
Lalitha Kumaramangalam, former Chairperson of the National Commission For Women, Sesame Workshop India's Managing Director Sonali Khan, social worker J Geetha, and Padma Shri awardees Gamit Ramilaben Raysingbhai and sanitation crusader Usha Chaumar also shared their journey at the telethon.
Neha Dhupia spoke about the challenges faced by women while travelling with respect to access to clean toilets. As she often travels via road because of work she's constantly worries about "what if you don't have the right kind of toilet, the right kind of facility...where can you go?"
She also highlighted a mindset challenge that people need to overcome, saying that "the minute we hear that it
Influencer Shraddha Jain stressed how celebrities can use their followers on social media to create change. “We should celebrate toilet day with the sanitation workers. They are the ones who need to be celebrated for ensuring access to safe sanitation by maintaining clean toilets across the country,” she said.
Former NCW Chairperson Kumaramangalam, meanwhile, pointed out the challenges and taboos around menstruation. "Unfortunately, women, even in urban areas, can't discuss menstruation with men in their families. It's still a taboo. We need to change this and normalise talking about sanitation in all aspects to drive the behavioural change," she said.
Sonali Khan, on the other hand, spoke about Sesame's initiative to educate children and young girls about safe sanitation and hygiene practices. Through muppets of Chamki and Elmo, they educate children and teach them basic practices like washing hands and flushing toilets.
J Geetha spoke about a similar initiative she is a part of. Through Gramalaya, Geetha focuses on capacity building and training students to further impart knowledge to peers and family. Her motto is "each one, teach five"!
"One student will do the demonstration
Raysingbhai spoke about the challenges in convincing people to construct toilets in rural and tribal areas. She said that people straight up refuse to have toilets made, saying "they'd rather go outside to answer nature's call. It is because there is very little awareness in tribal areas where we come from."
A grand 8-hour telethon under Mission Swachhta aur Paani was held on World Toilet Day, November 19, to mobilise India for better sanitation. Mission Swachhta Aur Paani, a Network 18 and Harpic initiative advocates equality for all genders, abilities, castes and classes and strongly believes that clean toilets are a shared responsibility.