ONI Bureau: The National Commission for Women (NCW) and Kalinga Kusum Foundation (KKF) organized a national workshop on the Role of Women in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) here at the Hotel Keshari in the state capital. The workshop was inaugurated by Honourable Mayor of Bhubaneswar Shri Anant Narayana Jena and was graced by leading names like Shri Priyadarshi Mishra, Hon’ble MLA of North Bhubaneswar, Odisha, Ms. Snigdha Panigrahy, former Member of State Commission for Women, Prof Jyotirmayee Acharya of Sri Sri University and legendary sociologist Prof Rita Ray of National Law University Odisha (NLUO). Workshop coordinator Ms. Swati Tanmaya Mishra of KKF introduced guests and Managing Trustee of KKF Shri Dibya Chand Shukla introduced the theme of the workshop and shared the vision of Kalinga Kusum Foundation.
Ms. Snigdha Panigrahy highlighted the gender-specific roles and identified how water is related to the womenfolk. She also stressed on the need of increasing awareness and openness in discussing menstrual hygiene. She was happy to see the impact of Padman movie of Akshay Kumar and how it has facilitated discussing sanitary napkins in the public.
Mayor of Bhubaneswar Shri Jena mentioned the success of smart city programme and appreciated the effort of the state government under Naveen Patnaik in making Bhubaneswar a global city. He articulated the flagship initiatives of the city administration in sustainable waste management, increasing women’s access to toilets and ensuring hygiene in street food. MLA Shri Mishra shared his past experience of people perceiving Odisha as a backward state where women are ill-treated and not provided basic access to WASH. He, however, expressed happiness over the current developments where Odisha is seen as a fast-growing state along with some brilliant practices in good governance and efficient administration.
Prof Jyotirmayee Acharya shared her fieldwork experience in Rajasthan and Gujarat. She discussed her ethnographic experience in both these states and how they inspired her to work on women SHGs. Renowned Sociologist Prof Rita Ray argued in favor a gender-neutral campaign to water, sanitation, and health. She opposed the acronym WASH as it reflects gender insensitive attitude and certainly sounds derogatory towards women. Sarojini Brahma stressed importance on the toilet for rural women and also shared recent studies that have indicated towards a link between open defecation and rape.
The first technical session was on Women and WASH: Safety, Security, and vulnerabilities. Leading names like Ms. Sarojini Brahma, Gender Specialist, Bhubaneswar Smart City, Odisha, Shri Rudra Prasanna Rath, Communication Consultant, UNICEF Odisha, Ms. Srabani Das, State Facilitator, PC & PNDT, H & FW Department, Government of Odisha joined the panel. Mrs. Swati Tanmaya Mishra, Kalinga Kusum moderated the session. Ms. Srabani stressed on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that focus on sanitation drinking water and health. She asked why the involvement of women is so low in block development planning. Discussed about movie Toilet ek Prem Katha and how it has become important for women to take lead. Rudra highlighted the importance of saving water. He cited studies which have established that women’s involvement in water fetching decreases the productivity of the rural economy as they spend more time in fetching water rather than on creating sustaining the livelihood.
The second technical session was on Community Leadership in WASH. Experts like, Ms. Tilottama Nayak, Member, State Commission for Women, Odisha, Ms. Tapasi Praharaj, National Secretary, AIDWA and Mrs Srimayee Mishra, Chairperson, Mahila Nigam, Odisha and Hon’ble MLA Shri Priyadarshi Mishra. The session was Moderated by Dr. Jyotirmayee Acharya, Associate Professor of Faculty of Commerce and Management Studies, Sri Sri University, Odisha. Ms. Tilottama Nayak stressed on how SHGs in Kalahandi got involved in the construction of roads also in Indira Awas Yojana. She appreciated the work SHGs do and urged them to realize their highest potential. Tapasi Praharaj observed that the best way for women to come together is by leadership in community work like in a SHG, federation and water users associations etc. Srimayee Mishra argued in favor of getting rid of the word blind belief (andha biswasa) and suggested this to be replaced by bad belief (ku-biswasa).
The third technical session was on State role and citizen’s rights. Experts like Ms. Kuntirani Pradhan, Assistant Professor, National Law University Odisha (NLUO), Ms. Snehanjali Mohanty, Member, SCW, Odisha joined the panel. The session was moderated by Mr. Kamala Kanta Dash of Kalinga Kusum. Ms. Mohanty spoke about the government of Odisha’s child protection policies and schemes. She suggested the participants to dial 181 number to report any problem related to violence against women and request for support for women in distress. She also suggested them to dial 1098, the 24 hours helpline for children in distress. Prof Kuntirani discussed how women are essential in every sector and she cited examples how women sarpanch helped making a village open defecation free in Ghatagaan. She asserted that without women the objectives WASH cannot be realized and as preservation and protection of water cannot be done without the involvement of women. The session also saw active participation from students of National Law University Odisha (NLUO), Sri Sri University and DAV School of Business Management (DSBM). Some students shared their experience and learning from the national workshop.
Ms. Swati Tanmaya Mishra introduced the guests and was the main anchor the event. Ms. Kapura Soren and Ms. Bijaya Laxmi Mohanty from Kalinga Kusum Foundation offered the vote of thanks. Ms. Mohanty thanked National Commission for Women for partnership, State Commission for Women for facilitation, Hotel Keshari for hospitality, SHGs of Bhubaneswar and students from NLUO, SSU and DSBM for their active participation and specially thanked Ms. Swati Tanmaya Mishra of Kalinga Kusum for taking leadership in expanding access and opportunities in women capacity development, Mr. Siddharth Mohanty for photography and logistics, Kamala Kanta Dash for press, Lalit Patro for rapporteur, Kapura Soren for stage management and Dibya Chand Shukla for overall guidance.