India honors rural women on the front lines of its toilet campaign
As crowds gathered around the world yesterday to celebrate women, India’s Prime Minister Modi paid special honor to thousands of “women champions” who are fighting for a most basic dignity: toilets.
Since 2014, the Indian government has been rolling out its largest sanitation campaign ever. The Clean India Movement, or Swachh Bharat, aims to eradicate open defecation by October 2019 through the construction of 12 million toilets. While the government, NGOs and businesses are undertaking the massive project, rural women have also stepped forward to lead efforts where toilets are most needed.
“The women we are honoring today have shattered so many myths,” Modi said in a speech at yesterday’s event. “They have shown how a positive change has begun in rural India.”
According to the World Health Organization, India by far has the largest population in the world that relieves themselves in the open – usually in fields, forests, bushes or open bodies of water.
- Health Care