The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today saluted the contribution made by women in leading the Swachh Bharat people’s movement. He was addressing 16,000 women Swachhata Champions from across the country who have come to Kurukshetra, Haryana, for the Swachh Shakti 2019 convention. Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister spoke about the symbolism in holding this convention in Kurukshetra, the birthplace of the Bhagwad Gita. He said that the presence of thousands of Women Swachhagrahis from across the country is another message from the same land and will serve to affirm the message of Swachhata in the country and the whole world. He mentioned that a delegation from the Government of Nigeria was present at the event and addressing them directly, he said, that he was sure that they would carry the message of cleanliness and sanitation from India back, not only to their homeland, but to the entire world. The Prime Minister said that women safety and dignity was his prime inspiration behind announcing the Swachh Bharat Mission on 15 August 2014 from the ramparts of the Red Fort. He said that it was because of the efforts made by the people of India, especially women, that the sanitation coverage in rural India, which stood at merely 39% as of October 2014 even after 67 years of India’s independence, has today crossed the 98% mark in just a little over four years of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). He said that the Mission had also benefitted women in unforeseen ways. He said that the country was seeing a greater participation of women in the workforce after the success of the Mission. He cited the example of the Rani Mistris of Jharkhand who had made their mark in the hitherto male-dominated profession of masonry, and would now find even more fruitful employment, such as in construction of houses under the Pradhaan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
Speaking about the health impact of sanitation, he said that a recent World Health Organization report has estimated that by the end of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the progress made under it would have led to saving of 3 lakh lives. He lauded the Government of Haryana for achieving significant milestones under various other schemes which also benefit women, including Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Ujjwala, PMAY, MUDRA scheme, Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana to benefit women Self Help Groups, increase in maternity leave, hiring of more and more women in the police force, Mahila Thanas, health schemes for women’s health. The Prime Minister also launched a series of seven central and State development projects in Haryana.Before addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister also visited an exhibition highlighting the colourful and attractive toilets painted in various parts of the country under the Swachh Sundar Shauchalaya campaign in January 2019. In just a matter of a month, rural Indian households painted and decorated 1.34 crore toilets. The Prime Minister also presented awards to 12 women champions from all five zones of the country – North, South, East, West and Central – for exceptional contribution to the campaign.Speaking about the campaign, the Prime Minister said that it was a unique beauty contest in history where the contestants were toilets, and that it served to instill a sense of pride in owning and using an “izzat ghar”, a toilet.In his address to the gathering, the Chief Minister of Haryana, Shri Manohar Lal, said that it is a matter of pride for the people of the State that Haryana was one of the first States to be declared free from open defecation under the SBM and recently received the distinction of being ranked number one in the country under the Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018.
Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Sushri Uma Bharti, spoke about the dual role played by women in SBM – both as the prime beneficiaries of the safety, health and dignity afforded by safe sanitation practices, and, even more importantly, as the leaders of this movement at the grassroots. In their roles as swachhagrahis, sarpanches, rani mistris, jal sahiyas, mahila samakhyas, the contribution made by women in making SBM a success cannot be overstated. She spoke about the ODF-plus initiatives being taken up by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for solid and liquid waste management in the 5.5 lakh ODF (Open Defecation Free) villages and 600 ODF districts in the country, such as the GOBAR-dhan (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources) initiative for converting organic waste to wealth and energy. The Prime Minister was also presented the first copy of a book titled “Swachh Bharat: Sankalp se Siddhi” by the Governor of Haryana, Shri Satyadeo Narain Arya. The book is a compilation of the Prime Minister’s quotes on Swachhata at various events and occasions in the last four years. The compilation is available and freely downloadable in e-book format on the Ministry website (mdws.gov.in) and has been printed and published by the Publications Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.In the run up to the culminating event presided over by the Prime Minister today, the women sarpanches and swachhagrahis from various parts of the country went on exposure visits in and around Kurukshetra to witness the Haryana development model and various places of local importance, including the Kalpana Chawla planetarium, Brahma Sarovar and a vermicomposting unit in Dhangali village. All Swachh Shakti films available on the SBM YouTube Channel: tinyurl.com/sbmgrameen