The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance was honoured to have participated in the Swachh Bharat Mission’s National Conclave of Women’s Champions in Delhi this November.
The event, organized by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MoDWS) with the support of UNICEF, had the aim of sharing best practices from across India, while encouraging and honouring such efforts in parts of the country where women are playing a leadership role.
Alongside the Hon’ble Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, and the Hon’ble Secretary of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Parameswaran Iyer, 300 women participated, including Sarpanches, Anganwadi workers, Block Development Officers, and Assistant District Collectors from across the nation.
Speaking at the inaugural plenary session of the event, Hon’ble Shri Parameswaran Iyer appreciated the efforts made by women who have led the construction and use of toilets, not only in their households, but also their entire villages and districts, women who have led self-help groups that lent money to villagers to build toilets in their homes, women who were grassroots government officials as well as women civil society activists present at the event and across the country.
Afterwards, Swamini Adityananda Saraswati, Director of Programmes, Policy and Development, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, spoke at an animated panel event which brought all participants into working groups to discuss proactive approaches towards enabling improved sanitation and menstrual health management practices for girls in school.
Said Swamini Adityananda, “Here in India, 24% of girls drop out of school once they reach adolescence. Let us break this cycle, which leads to poverty and pain, by ensuring every girl, everywhere, has access to safe, clean and private washroom facilities. At the same time, no longer should one girl suffer from the stigma, pain or lack of dignity imposed on them due to misconceptions regarding their monthly cycles. Instead, let us, together, promote a new reality, in which all girls are uplifted and understood, through improved understanding and mutual support.”
Also speaking at the Conclave were Lok Sabha Speaker, Smt Sumitra Mahajan Minister of State Shri Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, Ms Vrinda Sarup, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ms Navraj Sandhu, Additional Chief Secretary, Haryana, Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and MD State Bank of India. Shri Amitabh Bachchan sent a recorded video message for the women champions of the Swachh Bharat Mission.