A Survey finds that Lack of sanitation facilities puts high burden on women

New Delhi, Jan 31: Stating that lack of access to sanitation facilities puts disproportionate burden on women and girls, including threat to life besides nutritional risks, the Economic Survey today pitched for ensuring toilets in each household.

The pre-Budget Economic Survey 2016-17, tabled in Parliament today, also said to ensure safe and adequate sanitation, water security and hygiene — the objectives of Swachh Bharat — as part of a broader fundamental right to privacy for women is becoming a serious policy issue.
Stating that there is ‘disproportionate burden’ on women in households without toilets, the survey said it take several forms such as “threat to life and safety while going out for open defecation, reduction in food and water intake practices to minimise the need to exit the home to use toilets, polluted water leading to women and children dying from childbirth- related infections, and a host of other impacts”.

Stressing the need for women’s personal hygiene, the survey added it “is therefore important not just for better health outcomes but also for the intrinsic value in conferring freedom that comes from having control over their bodies, a kind of basic right to physical privacy”.

It, however, said there is an improvement from 2011 when the Census reported that more than half of the country’s population defecated in the open. More recent data shows about 60 per cent of rural households and 89 per cent of urban households have access to toilets.

Citing a recent study, the survey said in households with toilets, 62 per cent women reported use of the toilet “always”, while only 52 per cent men reported exclusive usage in such households.

In rural households, the proportion of regular use by women was 56 per cent as against 43 per cent by men. In urban households, 75 per cent of women reported exclusive usage as compared with 72 per cent by men.

“What this pattern of usage suggests is that women and girl-children could take a key leadership role to play in Swachh Bharat’s objective of creating defecation free communities, by nudging men and boys of the household to change their own defecation behaviors,” it added.

The survey said recognising the positive behavioral patterns that women demonstrate upon obtaining access to sanitation services is critical.

“Equally, when these services are denied, they face considerable insecurity and nutritional risks. For this reason, ensuring safe and adequate sanitation, water security and hygiene the objectives of Swachh Bharat as part of a broader fundamental right to privacy is becoming a serious policy issue,” it said.

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