For International Women’s Day, WaterAid India did a photo story on what mothers-to-be prefer taking to the hospital in their maternity bags. The content of these bags differed depending on whether they were delivering a child in a rural or urban setup, in a private or public healthcare facility, and largely on the financial condition of the family. For instance Pushpalatha Sahoo, 34 years, who lives in a slum near Puri in the state of Odisha and was in the eighth month of her pregnancy, packed bottles in her maternity bag to carry boiled water for use as the water available at the health centre may not have been safe. On the other hand Swarnali from Noida, Uttar Pradesh packed diapers and toiletries, socks and blankets for her new born, maxi pads for herself and a baby receiving blanket. She had not even thought about packing water as she was confident that the expensive private hospital she had selected would have all necessary WASH facilities.
Our regional office in Odisha in collaboration with National Alliance of Women (NAWO) Odisha and other organisations observed International Women’s Day on 8 and 9 March at Bhubaneswar on ‘Water Security for Women’. The event aimed at creating awareness on water security, especially among women Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members; to bring in a gender perspective to the campaign by sensitising women PRIs; to develop a shared understanding for ensuring water security among women PRIs; and to provide a platform for sharing of information and cross learning.
In Bihar, Women’s Day was observed in collaboration with Jeevika, National Social Service (NSS), and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYK). A rally was organised on ‘Women demand safe water & sanitation’. It was flagged off by the District Magistrate. Around 3,000 women from self-help groups in four districts participated to voice their demand for a dignified living with access to toilets in every home, and safe water for each member of family. In Uttar Pradesh Women’s Day programmes were organised in Kanpur, Lucknow, Mahoba, Banda, and Kushinagar where women sanitary workers discussed sanitation issues on agenda. A few WASH champions were also felicitated on the occasion.