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India’s WASH policies unduly burden girls; deserve to create mushy ecosystem, verbal exchange for social trade


The COVID-19 pandemic has made hand hygiene basic for illness prevention. This has resulted in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) gaining higher importance in households, colleges, well being facilities, and communities.

It’s evident that insufficient WASH providers disproportionately burden girls, and on account of this truth, protection framing and implementation must recognise the experiences, desires, and boundaries faced by girls and girls.

Figure 1: Ability Penalties of No longer Having Bathrooms for Ladies people

Source: Economic Survey 2016-17

Even supposing India does now no longer maintain an umbrella WASH protection, several policies for improved sanitation, clear racy water, and menstrual hygiene, each and each specializing in numerous aspects of WASH had been undertaken.

We notice the ‘Gender Responsive Assessment Scale’ developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to evaluate those policies and programmes on a five-level scale: Gender-unequal: 1, Gender-blind: 2, Gender-mushy: 3, Gender-explicit: 4 and Gender-transformative

Figure 2: Gender responsiveness of WASH policies


Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)

The Govt of India restructured and subsumed the Nationwide Rural Ingesting Water Programme (NRDWP) into the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in 2019. The protection objectives to make certain sensible and sufficient racy water provide thru Helpful Household Tap Connections (FHTC) to each and each rural household by 2024.

The JJM guidelines released in 2019 display hide that the provide of tap water connections to households can support girls and girls of the wrestle of walking miles to derive water, alleviating ‘time poverty’*.

It emphasises girls’s feature in leading and participating in JJM actions, namely on the village level. Ladies people are required to picture 50 percent of the Village Water and Sanitation Committees. The ‘Swajal’ programme, below JJM, contains a Ladies people’s Construction Initiative (WDI) designed to upskill them, give a design near their earnings-earning capabilities, and join them to the market, thru encourage from Reduction Organisations.

About 19 percent of the rural population had been equipped FHTCs by 31 December, 2019.


On the opposite hand, habitations with lower than 25 percent of the population having salvage admission to to safe racy water were granted lower precedence in protection than numerous classes. This signifies that water-stressed out areas continue to endure, and so create girls and girls in those areas.

Alternatively, the JJM gifts a particular more than just a few to undertake gender-transformation in rural India thru selling girls’s management.

Atal Bhujal Yojana

The gender approach for the protection tracks the participation of girls within the strategy. It requires 33 percent girls contributors in Water Exercise Associations (WUA) on the Gram Panchayat level to enable holistic participation of girls in water budgeting, water security planning, and monitoring implementation development.

Except for offering coaching, gender points are also addressed in meetings of WUAs. Ladies people contributors of Self-encourage Groups (SHGs) are also required to picture a wide vary of Water Management Committees (WMC).

Even supposing the on-floor gender transformation is yet to pan out, proof signifies that girls’s participation in resource administration improves their bargaining energy and management skills while upholding more efficient water consume.

Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin (SBM-G)

Thru its ‘Gender Guidelines’, the mission recognises the importance of sufficient sanitation and menstrual hygiene administration for girls’s well being, privacy, safety, and socio-economic outcomes. It requires the active participation of girls now no longer only in campaigns nonetheless also as leaders constituting 50 percent of the Village Water and Sanitation Committees (VWSC).

The Records, Education, Verbal exchange (IEC) campaigns are centered now no longer only in direction of girls nonetheless also men, to command gender stereotypes. It also encourages girls to work as masons to encourage in lavatory construction, adolescent girls to design close awareness of menstrual well being administration in their communities, and men to contemplate half in asserting toilets.

The programme has also integrated trained foot troopers, or swachhagrahis, mostly girls, from self-encourage groups, ASHA workers, and numerous community-based mostly organisations who motivate improved sanitation practices in their villages. In Jharkhand, 1.5 million girls-led a hygiene campaign and constructed 1.7 lakh toilets in lower than a month.

Even supposing India was declared originate-defecation-free (ODF) in 2019, several experiences display hide the persistence of originate-defecation in areas labelled ODF, defunct toilets, and discrepancies between the SBM administrative info and Nationwide Pattern Peek info. There maintain also been experiences of non-fee of wages to swachhagrahis. If such protection implementation gaps are now no longer bridged, areas with dark sanitation and lack of sufficient toilets will continue to fail their girls.

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)

The MHM guidelines, issued by the Ministry of Ingesting Water and Sanitation, provide a well-defined MHM framework that contains IEC initiatives, higher WASH infrastructure, availability and safe disposal of menstrual absorbents, and participation of communities and colleges, to make adolescent girls able to continuous their education and ending the taboo around menstruation. It also brings collectively numerous ministries to collectively act in direction of the role off.

On the opposite hand, MHM is aloof recognised as one amongst the least prioritised parts of SBM-G. On the Lok Sabha demand of allocation of funds to the MHM part of SBM-G, the Ministry of Ingesting Water and Sanitation answered that they invent now no longer originate part-wise funds and create now no longer maintain any monitoring mechanism in space.

Floor experiences point out that info of ethical menstrual hygiene practices is aloof lacking. Ladies maintain salvage admission to to sanitary napkins as long as they’re equipped with the identical from the college and later hand over utilizing them on account of non-affordability or non-availability.

Even though ASHA workers continue to design close awareness, there are circumstances the put 80 percent of girls and girls in villages continue to watch unhygienic MHM.

Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban (SBM-U)

Even supposing the SBM-Gramin has tried to be gender-transformative while recognising the burden of dark sanitation on girls, SBM-U appears to be like to be to maintain left that out fully. The one real gender mushy level incorporated in SBM-United statesguidelines is that “sufficient provision for separate toilets and bathing facilities for men, girls and the bodily-disabled” will maintain to be ensured.

This would possibly possible be problematic. In 2018, 35.2 percent of India’s urban population was dwelling in slums, and with the ever-increasing urban population, right here’s only going to upward push. Urban slums with dark sanitation, privacy, and infrastructure pose several challenges for girls.

Since girls and girls mostly consume community lavatory complexes or public toilets — over and over positioned on the outskirts of the slum within 1-2 km radius — they’re at threat of harassment and violence. These privacy and safety considerations are magnified within the evenings and gradual nights.

The paucity of clear and separate toilets for girls within the urban working panorama can discourage and restrict girls from joining the crew, as well as to several factors that already hinder their labour force participation. The toilets are also poorly maintained and lack of water connection and ethical crash disposal suggestions. To put collectively water for household consume, girls and girls deserve to face in long queues to accumulate it from the water tankers.

Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan

The Suited India: Suited Faculties campaign below SBM has recognised separate toilets and clear water in colleges is basic to a girl’s education. It offers for barrier-free salvage admission to to clear toilets and clear racy water for all teens.

The programme also involves education on menstrual hygiene administration, sanitation, and handwashing. On the opposite hand, while there had been necessary improvements in sanitation and clear water availability put up this campaign, some considerations stay.

In 15 percent of faculties assessed by WaterAid, racy water was now no longer safe, and half of of them lacked a water storage facility. While 95 percent of the colleges had real looking toilets, these toilets were locked in 39 percent colleges and some college students were aloof defecating within the originate. A third of the colleges had no running water for handwashing, and only about 20 percent of faculties assessed had “some facility for girls to take care of an eye fixed on their menses”.

Kayakalp Initiative

Launched by the Ministry of Health and Household Welfare to complement the efforts of SBM, this initiative objectives to promote cleanliness, hygiene and an infection take care of an eye fixed on in public well being facilities, encourages usual efficiency overview, and develops sustainable cleanliness practices to give a design near well being outcomes.

The method also recognises and awards the one-performing public well being facilities. On the opposite hand, even though the guidelines mention toilets and labour rooms’ cleansing, the gender dimension is now no longer regarded as.

Policy suggestions

Proof from across the globe finds that involving girls in designing, planning, and implementing WASH programmes helps in lowering dropout rates from college, increasing college attendance, bettering literacy rates and well being outcomes, ensuring higher privacy and dignity, and cutting back small one mortality and the threat of harassment and violence.

Subsequently, girls’s participation in WASH providers benefits now no longer only them nonetheless also their families and entire communities.

1. Integrate existing policies correct into a single WASH protection for India

While it’s famous that policies such because the Jal Jeevan Mission and Kayakalp method are recognised as being in tandem with the Swachh Bharat Mission, the convergence of those policies below the umbrella of WASH would provide the synergy and holistic implementation that India’s WASH sector desires.

2. Educate swachhagrahis for wider verbal exchange and guarantee well timed wage payments

The community and reach of swachhagrahis will maintain to be utilised past the total sanitation and bathroom construction considerations. They’ll maintain to be trained to propagate gender-mushy IEC, promote girls’s salvage admission to to toilets, and create more gender-pleasant toilets, to command certain social norms in notice.

It can possible be ensured that due wages are paid to them on time as per the swachhagrahi guidelines.

3. WASH in colleges: Originate bigger the protection focal level on Menstrual Hygiene Management

The availability of separate real looking toilets for girls and boys and sufficient handwashing stations desires to lengthen. The colleges will deserve to maintain sufficient MHM infrastructure, which involves private spaces, clear water provide, and crash disposal facilities. The college administration committees (SMC) must make certain that WASH providers and awareness are maintained.

The local self-governments and authorities must guarantee girls’s management to salvage rid of the taboo around menstruation and gender-inclusive option making. The usage of more affordable and sustainable alternatives for MHM will maintain to be encouraged.

The manager can incentivise and increase grassroots entrepreneurs to scale production and distribution of their biodegradable menstrual hygiene merchandise, to preserve a real provide even for closing-mile populations.

4. Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) desires to be mushy in direction of girls in urban slums

It’s miles foremost that designers of public toilets or community lavatory complexes are cognisant of factors such as privacy, hours of availability, distance from the residential areas, compose of toilets that can affect girls and girls, and employ innovation in constructing gender-mushy structures. This can require ample initiative from the executive’s hand over.

To guarantee the lawful to hygiene and sanitation, licenses for establishing retail outlets, factories or workspaces will maintain to be issued only if girls-pleasant toilets will more than possible be found, no subject whether girls are employed or now no longer. The manager must pursue urban sanitary infrastructure with due rigour and computer screen compliance efficiently.

5. WASH in well being facilities will maintain to be gender-mushy

WASH policies in well being facilities must integrate the particular desires of girls and children, which involves safe, hygienic and accessible well being centres and real looking toilets. The Kayakalp Awards must consist of ‘gender-inclusive infrastructure’ as a metric in assessing well being facilities for their well being ambiance.

Monitoring systems will maintain to be role up to notice WASH efficiency of well being facilities and its affect on well being outcomes of girls and girls.

6. Create a ‘Gender Monitoring’ system and favourable ecosystem for trade

Even while WASH policies are gender-mushy or gender-transformative in their compose and planning, they fail to measure the gendered affect of the protection. Most proof accessible is anecdotal, and there would possibly be no longer a quantitative info or monitoring to depict the put the protection stands on bridging the gender gap.

Insurance policies must employ gender prognosis tools to originate a framework for such dimension and integrate it with the Management Records Draw (MIS) or mobile apps to trace development on gendered outcomes.

To make an ecosystem for gender transformation, it be basic for WASH policies to scoot past gender sensitivity and address the causes of gender inequality and elevate forth obvious modifications within the energy dynamics between girls and men.

*Time poverty refers to the dearth of time for private sport or leisure on account of long working hours. In the case of girls, it signifies the dearth of time on account of home chores or care actions that contemplate in most of their hours.

The creator is a analysis partner at Social & Political Be taught Foundation (SPRF). Headquartered in New Delhi, SPRF is a younger protection contemplate-tank wanting for to make public protection analysis holistic and accessible

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