The seven Indian women who have made it this year to the list of BBC’s 100 most inspirational women from around the world are the better known names such as Sania Mirza, the tennis star, Kamini Kaushal the film actor of 100 films, Asha Bhonsle the 82 year old indomitable singer. Among the lesser known names are young girls such as, 32 year old Rimmpi Kumari of Rajasthan who managed her 32 acre farm after her father died, Smriti Nagpal who sells the products of hearing impaired, Kanika Tekriwal, a cancer victim at 20 and an entrepreneur at 27 years, who set up her company ‘Jetsetgo’ that rents out private jet planes and helicopters to clients. The seventh name -the most amazing one is that of Mumtaz Shaikh of Mumbai. BBC picks out influential women from the fields of politics, science, entertainment and more, along with those who are less popular but are inspiring many in their own ways.
Mumtaz Shaikh, the 33-year-old is the Right to Pee activist. She has been aggressively working to get free facilities for women through the ‘Right to Pee’ network. She got 96 toilets constructed in Mumbai, which women can use for free. In addition, she is also working to get the government to set aside Rs. 5 crore to build female-only urinals across the city. Is that not a noble undertaking? This is such a serious problem for women everywhere, whether you are travelling or working in some office. Even high profile corporate women have mentioned this prickly problem in their address narrating their own experiences. Prime Minister Modi was courageous to admit that many girls drop out of schools for the lack of the basic facility of a toilet for girls. This is not restricted to just rural areas but very much prevalent in urban areas too.
Let’s take the story of a lady from a government department. She came for some survey that was going on. She narrated the horrors of the travels that they do for such work. They travel long distances by bus which take several hours and there are no facilities for toilets on the way. The bus may stop several times at odd places where there are no such facilities and while the men ease themselves behind trees or even in the open where there are no bushes to hide the women sit meekly holding themselves and suffering quietly. They do not think it fit to voice their concerns in public. This she revealed lead to many peculiar types of physical health problems such as urinary infections and the types.
A teacher was telling me that when exams are held in different schools and students come in from all over the district for exams from different schools, the toilets are locked by the authorities and the students appearing for exams are made to suffer. They might have to sit for the exams for several hours as some exams are long and in spite of toilets being present they are kept locked. What an atrocious idea! You have the facilities and you deliberately keep them locked as a policy because they are students from outside the school.