Why Using Patriarchal Messaging to Promote Toilets is a Bad Idea

Why Using Patriarchal Messaging to Promote Toilets is a Bad Idea | Source: The Wire, June 2015 |

The struggles for women’s empowerment and improving sanitation are both harmed by using patriarchal messages to encourage construction of toilets.

An excerpt: Impact of patriarchal messages

In our empirical research on sanitation and health in rural India, we have become used to seeing patriarchal messages to promote the construction of toilets. Slogans like “Bahu betiyan bahar na jayein, Ghar mein hi shauchalay banvayein” [“Daughters and Daughters-in-law shouldn’t go outside, build a toilet inside your house”] are now painted across walls and toilets in rural India. Through these slogans, men are encouraged to build a toilet not because it will prevent the spread of disease and germs, but because their patriarchal values should not allow women to go outside the house.

Further, the idea of ghoonghat, or keeping women covered, is used in behaviour change messages in rural Rajasthan. In large banners and in yearly calendars, in government offices and on village walls, the Rajasthan government uses a picture of a woman carrying a lota filled with water. In the poster, the woman is being asked by her daughter, “Maa, ghar mein ghoonghat tera saathi, fir kyun shuach khule mein jaati” [“Mother, when you cover your head inside the house, how come you go in the open to defecate”].  messaging

The poster and the slogan use patriarchal logic to point out the inconsistency between practicing ghoonghat and defecating in the open. In the process, this message associates the use of toilets with women, endorses the practice of ghoonghat, and encourages the idea that the right place for a women are the char-diwari of the ghar (four walls of the house).

Read the complete article in: The Wire, June 2015

One response to “Why Using Patriarchal Messaging to Promote Toilets is a Bad Idea

  1. I so agree.. sadly this is India and we have patriarchal values imprinted into DNA..

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