UP: Sorry state of women sanitation workers

Women sanitation workers have been major contributors in improving sanitation conditions in urban and rural India, be it Swachh Bharat Mission, or contributing towards making urban and rural societies open defecation free.
Despite the good work done by women sanitation workers, they have poor working conditions.(AFP)
Despite the good work done by women sanitation workers, they have poor working conditions.(AFP)
Published on Sep 14, 2018 01:09 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Lucknow | ByHT Correspondent, Lucknow

Women sanitation workers have been major contributors in improving sanitation conditions in urban and rural India, be it Swachh Bharat Mission, or contributing towards making urban and rural societies open defecation free (ODF).

Challenges they face

Most of them are exploited, sometimes sexually, by contractors and officials.

The absence of a formal recognition of these workers results in less than satisfactory access to schemes and programmes implemented to help them.

Women workers face a specific set of challenges as they are often forced to become primary earners, while also having to tend to household chores.

Most of these women are daily wagers, or on a contract, and only a miniscule percentage are in regular jobs in corporations.

These workers have low-life expectancy and poor physical health, suffering from skin diseases, respiratory illness and asthma, and are not given maternity leave if working on contract basis. Their average life expectancy is said to be less than 50 years.

Anshuman Koral, senior programme officer, PRIA, said: “Despite the good work done by women sanitation workers, they have poor working conditions. The reason behind this has been that most of them are working in the unorganised category.”

He said that their study in Jhansi, Ajmer and Muzaffarpur showed that women were being exploited and were being forced to live a second standard life.

According to the report, most women sanitation workers are into sewer cleaning, septic tank cleaning, latrine cleaning, treatment plant work, community, public toilet cleaning, school toilet cleaning, sweeping/drain cleaning but are discriminated against.

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