We must become the change we wish to see in the world- Mahatma Gandhi
Everyone wishes for a cleaner India but not everyone has the courage of conviction to actually fight for that change. However, across India, there is an increasing group of women, ranging from teenagers in school to a 105-year-old woman who are leading the fight for a Swachh India. Here is a list of five times we were inspired by women who found an innovative way to spread the cleanliness message.
In India it is not uncommon for parents to invest in gold jewelry even while their daughters are young. What is extremely rare, though, is to see school girls offer to give up their jewelry for a toilet. This is exactly what happened in Bihar’s Buxar district where six girls from the 10th grade gave up their gold jewellery. Despite coming from well-off families, they grew up in houses without toilets and decided to use this novel form of protest to convince their parents to build a toilet at home.
It’s hard to believe that 105-year old Kunwar Bai had never seen a toilet for a century, and had been defecating in the open all through. It was only recently that the now 105-year old sold her goats and built 2 toilets in her house. The Swachh Abhiyan Mascot was instrumental in spreading awareness on open defecation in her village, Kotabharri in Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh. Impressed by her effort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitated and touched her feet.
One of the largest plastic waste management efforts in Kerela, the ‘Pen Drive’ initiative is the brainchild of Lakshmi Menon. The 42 year old artist aims to reduce plastic pollution by encouraging people to switch from plastic ball pens to ink pens. With support from the government, Laxmi has been successful in collecting upto seven lakh plastic pens thereby reducing plastic pollution in Kerela.
After quitting her job in the UK, Shilpika Gautam embarked on an inspiring journey across the Ganga. She is the world’s first woman to have stand up paddle-boarded across the Ganga, from source to sea. En route she stopped at various towns and villages along the river’s banks to spread the message of pollution, cleanliness and sanitation.
Manisha Bhandare is a proud member of waste management co-operative in Pune called SWaCH or Solid Waste Collection and Handling, The 35- year old learned to drive so that she could help her city drive out waste. Along with her fellow workers, she collects upto 1 tonne of waste everyday and hands over the waste to the Pune Municipal Corporation.