We Need More Women’s Toilets (And Clean Ones), Not Pink Toilets!

As more and more women's toilets in Delhi are being revamped and painted pink, I am trying to make sense of the psyche behind the clichéd move.

As more and more women’s toilets in Delhi are being revamped and painted pink, I am trying to make sense of the psyche behind the clichéd move.

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation has painted 22 women’s toilet blocks pink and made an announcement that all women’s toilets are to be pink in the future. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation that came up with the idea is busy establishing these pink blocks as well. These women’s toilets can already be found in Vikaspuri, Karol Bagh, Rohini, Sadar-Paharganj zone and Narela zone and have been refurbished, revamped and stocked with sanitary facilities. Though the fact that the work is being done to provide public toilet and sanitary facilities for women is a ‘relief’, the aesthetics that are being highlighted are not only unnecessary but almost disturbing.

The Municipal Corporation officials say that the pinkification is being done for ‘easy identification’ by women. North Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor Preety Agarwal also stated in an interview to The Hindu that they took “the decision to paint women’s toilet blocks pink as the colour symbolises womanhood and femininity.” The statements reveal worrying details about the psyche that permeates not only many individuals but even civic bodies. By taking extra measures to accentuate these minute ‘pink’ details, we know that a bigger ideology is at work.

First things first. It is a universally acknowledged phenomenon that toilets are to be identified by the symbol on the doors, where the symbols could be life-size or pretty small. Have women in India never seen those gender symbols on toilets before? No. Have they been demanding for a better way of identification? No. Thus, the move mimics the ways of a person with seniority showing his inferiors which way to look, and how to look.

Secondly, if identification of public toilets is a tough task for women, why don’t we make things easier for men as well? In any case, it is never a good move to ignore half the population.

Furthermore, why did it have to be specifically pink? The colour yellow (especially, its glow-in-the-dark version) is more eye-catching and easily identifiable. This move is a public announcement signalling to the women the space they belong to. It is not a rainbow, but a singular colour. It is not blue or green, but pink. This action incorporates the clichés and generalizations of femininity and womanhood – the kind where a colour becomes the epitome of all that a woman experiences.

Besides the propaganda, public works like these are bound to become hot topics and work well to get governments back into the headlines. Let us hope the tactics go beyond the publicity and that these women’s toilets stay well-stocked, well-maintained and safe for use.

Top image via Pixabay

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