By Manasi Nene
Haryana is infamous for its skewed gender roles. The sex ratio has finally gone up to 950 girls per 1000 boys, but that doesn’t mean that things are going wonderfully for the state. The state authorities launches a new No Toilet, No Bride campaign in 2005, after the erstwhile Minister for Rural Development infamously declared that India had more Hindu temples than indoor bathrooms.
Has it worked? A new study seems to think so.
Through radio ads, billboards, posters and paintings, the Haryana government propagated the idea that women shouldn’t get married unless the groom’s house had a fully functional indoor toilet. In Haryana, about 70 percent of houses still don’t have a proper latrine. Lack of proper sanitation facilities has been linked to violence against women – often, conducting their business in the dark, away from their houses, makes women and girls more susceptible to violence and sexual abuse.
Considering that they were aiming at taking out two birds with one stone, in addressing both its lack of widespread sanitation and its treatment of women as second-class citizens, we were apprehensive about how the campaign would eventually work out. Private sanitation coverage increased by 21 percent in four years, and the move has been welcomed not just by brides and grooms, but the families of both as well.
However, this success is also tied into the fact that Haryana has a significant gap in its gender ration. In a state where the there is immense social pressure to get married and there aren’t enough toilets, this makes sense. But unless there is a significant scarcity of women, it doesn’t seem to have worked. There are efforts to bring this campaign to other northern states, particularly Punjab and Himanchal Pradesh – if the results of the Haryana study are anything to go by, we’re glad that all efforts at gender parity aren’t going down the drain.