Many girls in the rural areas face the indignity of not having access to toilets or feminine hygiene products and their disposal facilities. This has resulted in them missing school during their menstrual periods. 14-year-old Nisha Kumari, a class-10 student from a gram panchayat in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district has drawn attention to the cause, her actions leading to the construction of over 550 toilets.
It was during a debate in her school in Kud that Nisha had first heard about the benefits of safe sanitation practices and the need to use toilets. Having learnt that use of toilets would ensure better health and well being of all people, she was keen to have a toilet in her home, so that she need not go out for her ablutions.
When she approached her parents about a toilet in the house, they listened to her but paid scant attention to her request. Compelled to draw attention to her point, she went on a hunger strike on 14th and 15th March, 2018. Both her family and the district authorities took note of the silent protest with a sense of alarm and within a few days had a toilet constructed in her home in Kud Basti village.
Reports of her courageous action spread like wildfire and inspired 35 other students from the Higher Secondary School of Kud who similarly demanded toilets in their homes. To date, as many as 558 toilets have been constructed in the GP. The Kud panchayat block comprises of 20 panchayats and 7989 households.
Recently, the child was commended by a Union Minister and was presented with school text books in the presence of district development commissioner Udhampur Ravinder Kumar and other senior officers, reports said. The district is set to be declared open defecation free in December 2018.
*This story first appeared on e-paper.greaterkashmir.com