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Women's Day Special

Swachh Shakti: On International Women’s Day, India Celebrates And Honours Women Who Played Pivotal Roles In The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

To celebrate the immense contributions made by women in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, several Swachh Shakti events were organised across India which celebrated the efforts of women to popularise the sanitation mission

Swachh Shakti celebrations held across India on Women's Day
  • In Uttar Pradesh, over 14,000 women participated in the Swachh Shakti event
  • UP CM Yogi Adityanath awarded several female Swachhagrahis at the event
  • Swachh Shakti events were held at several other states across India

New Delhi: Shakti, the literal translation of which means power, has long been traditionally associated with women empowerment in India. As the world gears up to celebrate International Women’s Day, India too is not behind with her plethora of women who have been stellar examples of empowerment. Ever since the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan began in 2014 with the target of eradicating the practice of open defecation in India, women have participated in large numbers in the movement, often setting examples in their quest for safe sanitation for themselves, as well as communities.

Sanitation had long been a problem for women in India and till 2014, over 35 crore women had no access to toilets in India. In rural areas, women had to be at the mercy of sunrises and sunsets, so they could venture out to nearby forests and relieve themselves, braving several dangers on their way. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan aimed to provide women a life of dignity by ending their plight of being forced to defecate in the open. In the four years of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, numerous women have contributed immensely to fight for their right to dignity and safe sanitation. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2018, Swachh Shakti celebrations saluted the spirit of the powerful woman taking steps to ensure safe sanitation.

In Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Uma Bharti and Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation flagged off Swachh Shakti raths that will run across the state to trigger behavioural change among people, encouraging them to use toilets. The event was attended by 8,000 women sarpanchs, 3,000 women Swachhagrahis & 2,000 mahila samakhyas and is expected to sustain the momentum of toilet construction going on currently in Uttar Pradesh. During the course of the event, women Swachhagrahis were awarded for their efforts in improving sanitation condition in their villages and communities. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that a Swasth Bharat was not possible without a Swachh Bharat.

To celebrate Swachh Shakti, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation also released a video which paid homage to women who have been instrumental in bringing change to their respective villages across India. The video traces the success stories of many female Swachhagrahis, be it Lavanya from Chikkanhalli village in Karnataka or Radha from Siswa village in Gujarat, who have been at the forefront of in bringing in safe sanitation practices in their villages. The video saluted the millions of women across India who are relentlessly working towards improving sanitation conditions and inspiring others to do the same.  The video has been shared by actors Akshay Kumar and Anil Kapoor, who have appreciated the monumental role played by women in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Swachh Shakti celebrations also took place across India. In Odisha’s Angul, an official from the District Water and Sanitation department took to stage to inaugurate Women’s Day celebrations in the district, and spoke about the importance of toilet usage and washing hands to maintain safe sanitation. In Kanpur, a Swachh Shakti event was held at the presence of Mahila Pradhans and women Swachhagrahis. A Swachh Shakti celebration was also held at Regidi Amdalavalsa in Andhra Pradesh where the Zilla Swachh Bharat committee members spoke about the importance of toilet usage. Giridih in Jharkhand also witnessed the participation of hundreds of women at a Swachh Shakti event, where sanitation, toilet usage and ODF sustenance were discussed via speeches, songs and dance events. In Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, women sanitation workers were felicitated by the municipal corporation for their tireless work to keep the city clean.

Also Read: On International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Pays Homage To Late Kunwar Bai, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s Mascot

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