Mobile women facility corner is soon going to be a reality in Sonajhuri in Santiniketan. The initiative is undertaken to create a self-sustainable women’s facility corner for women across the country starting West Bengal. Apart from better sanitation facilities these mobile units will be serving snacks and local delicacies to the tourists and are being run by self help groups, thus generating local employment.
The mobile women facility comprises three washrooms, a disable and a gender neutral toilet, a breastfeeding room with cold and hot water facilities and also a cloth trial rooms.
Sonajhuri is one of the top tourist attractions for people visiting Santiniketan, famous for its weekend handicraft haat, where local artisans sell their handmade artifacts. More than 1000 sellers are registered with the haat committee majority of them are womens. Almost 40 thousand people visit Santiniketan per day on popular days and during weekends. Owing to the location of the place there is hardly any washroom for the thousands of people, especially for women present there.
Last year Eloo, a social startup conducted a survey in the Sonajhuri Haat area. In the survey, womens expressed their deep concern for not having clean toilet while travelling. Even if they manage to find a toilet for emergencies, neither of them are facilitated with a rest room or changing room, with proper availability of water.
This also influences their eating choices. Around 40% of people in the survey said they don’t prefer eating food on their way. Others, who prefer eating, choose homemade food over others. At any time people’s first priority is a clean toilet over good food as they hardly get clean toilets on highways.
Bolpur Mahasangha along with social startup Eloo has started working on addressing the problem of lack of a women friendly facility corner in Sonajhuri. Eloo With the financial support from Mission Nirmal Bangla from the District administration Birbhum completed the up cycling of the bus provided by the state government and is soon going to be operational as a pilot project.
With more than 35000+ womens Bolpur Mahasangha has a legacy of delivering big projects impacting the community in a positive manner. Eloo is a social startup currently incubated under AIC run by Niti Aayog. Eloo has collaborated with SSE India, New Delhi, Peace Tech lab USA and US Consulate General Mumbai for the project implementation.
The objective of the initiative is also to create and maintain such facility corners for travelers along the national highways and tourists spots, which would be mapped on existing navigation systems, e.g. Google Maps and Apple Maps. There will be more such Eloo women’s corner in the days to come, which are up by re cycling old buses, thereby reducing carbon footprint.