Activists and charities campaigning for better access to public toilets for women in Mumbai are asking men to join the movement, saying greater gender sensitivity can solve the problem faster.
The Right to Pee campaign, a collaborative effort of 33 non-profits, is calling attention to the lack of free, clean and safe public toilets for women in Mumbai. In the city of more than 22 million, only about one-third of the 11,000 or so pay-to-use toilets are for women.
“There is a huge disparity between facilities for men and women, largely due to the gender insensitivity of the authorities,” said Supriya Sonar, an activist with the Right to Pee campaign. “Which is why we are telling men who pee in the open: you too don’t have adequate facilities, so why don’t you join our campaign.”
The lack of adequate sanitation costs India the equivalent of more than 6 percent of its gross domestic product every year, according to non-profit Dasra, an Indian foundation promoting social change.
The issue is particularly important to slum dwellers – more than half Mumbai’s population – and to those who work on construction sites and on the streets.
Public toilets for women are often dirty, with broken doors and no running water or lights. Where there are no public toilets, the search for a suitable place comes with the constant threat of sexual harassment or rape.