Toilet is the basic infrastructure that every house should have. India is land of villages, and even after independence many village houses lacked basic infrastructure including toilet. People used open grounds as toilet. Though men didn’t face or hesitate to use this open ground but women were facing problems especially lower class women.
According to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) around 550 million people practiced open defecation in India, leading to health and environmental hazards. This is due to lack of maintained public sanitation facilities, poverty and illiteracy. But since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there is a steady improvement in the citation.
The mission to build toilets in urban and rural areas achieved a significant reduction in open defecation between 2014 – 2019. After the launch of the mission the number of people not having access to toilets reduced.
Under Swachh Bharat Mission all Villages, Districts, and States in India declared themselves “open defecation free” by 2019.
The issue of toilets is more serious in urban areas rather than rural areas because in rural areas, there are open spaces and field, whereas in urban areas spaces are cramped and open. Due to this there are issues of communicable diseases, sexual harassment (women in slum areas, typically tend to relieve themselves at late hours of the night or early morning, which makes them vulnerable to rape, molestation).
So, to reduce this if toilets built specifically for women and children, can address health and hygiene concerns. A smart toilet built exclusively for women and children which also provides basic check-up facilities, sanitary napkins, vending machine as well as safe drinking water to women and children will be an extraordinary initiative.
Keeping this in view, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) took initiative of such facilities for women, especially adolescent girls in Delhi. An innovative concept called Pink Toilets was developed by NCPCR.
“Pink Toilets” are toilets pink in color so that they are easily identifiable, protects privacy, provides sanitary napkin vending machine, incinerators to burn them and prevent pollution.
South Delhi Municipal Cooperation agreed to initiate the concept of Pink Toilets at Vikaspuri, Delhi. The Municipal Corporation chose Vikaspuri Market area for construction of the pink toilet because it sees a high footfall of women and girls and they always face a lot of problems in accessing hygienic toilets and toilets with sanitary napkins and facilities for their disposal.
On International Day for the Girl Child, NCPCR and South Delhi Municipal corporation inaugurated the first Pink Toilet in the Vikaspuri area on October 12, 2017.
This one of its kind facility is a significant step towards creation of a hygienic public restroom for women and children. To ensure safe menstrual hygiene, the Pink Toilet is equipped with sanitary napkin vending machine and incinerator facility. Moves like this give a boost to the ambitious ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’.
Pink Toilets are beyond just toilets. They are unique in the sense that these toilets are free, multi-utility spaces, run ”By the women, For the women”.
Features of Pink Toilet
• Separate toilet facility only for women, girls and children
• Pink coloured for easy identification by women
• Clean washrooms with both Indian and Western toilet facilities
• Low height toilets and basins for children
• Basin with running water and hand-washing facilities
• Bright and vibrant with proper lighting
• Availability of lady caretaker 24/7
• Sanitary napkin Vending Machines and Incinerators for women
• Instruction for care of toilet and usage of napkins to be put up in board
• Helpline numbers to be placed in boards
• Private area for child care inside toilet campus
• Seating area outside the pink toilet
• Feedback mechanism to share inputs about experience of usage
• Availability of toilet location in the app
The initiative started at Delhi, and has spread to other states too.