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Why is access to proper toilets for women still a novelty? Here's what organisations can do about it.
I have always been quite skeptical when it comes to using a public washroom.
The fear only increased once I attained menarche.
I thought I was weird for having such thoughts, but later I realised that most girls and women had this issue.
This was one aspect that I started looking out for after I worked in a couple of institutions. This was because one of the institutes I worked for was in a complex that housed around 70 other shops and organizations and only 2 toilets for the 100-odd employees. I was a part-timer so I could afford to rush home and use the toilet but the rest of the women suffered in silence. Later, during every interview I attended, I ensured that I “used” the toilet to see if they maintained one properly.
The greatest issue we face is when we have our periods and have to take a sanitary pad to a dingy bathroom not knowing where to place it while changing the used one. I still remember when I was working in an institute that had a toilet on the verandah that was facing the road.
I had to pass two classrooms en route to the toilet and then it was quite a tricky act to change my pads. Since the toilet was stinky, I had to hold my breath, but this became difficult when I had to hold my new pad under my chin. All this added to holding my salwar’s untied strings in my two hands and trying to change my pads.
By the end of this balancing act, I would become tired and would literally be looking like a warrior who had just fought a battle. Passing in front of the classrooms with a pad wrapped in paper, twice a day was worse than the pain that I suffered which made me detest going to work during those period days.
The next institute had a toilet which was much cleaner, but the issue that I faced here was that there was no place to dispose of the used pads. So, we were forced to carry back these pads to our houses and then dispose of them. This seemed quite unbearable initially, however, by and by we found ways to tackle this problem, as well.
Today, the new generation has access to improved sanitary products such as menstrual cups, and tampons. However, the problem of emptying a cup and re-inserting it is terrifying, especially for a new user. Many times, the menstrual blood emptied into the toilet requires strong gushes of water to wash it away. During this time, standing in the toilet and emptying buckets of water is not something very desirable.
With years of experience and an expanse of knowledge, I feel women feel cared for when their physical health is taken care of. This means that providing ample washroom facilities is of utmost importance. Women, too, should assert their requirement rather than feel ashamed about periods and consider it as a taboo subject. Feeling uncomfortable, irritated, or embarrassed during periods only makes women despise themselves, their bodies, and those few days every month.
This can be changed by transparent communication between the organisation and the women employees.
Image Source: Still from the movie Hidden Figures
Presently working as an English tutor, a dentist by profession, but a writer forever. Love penning down everything I strongly feel about and create a change in mindset, especially among the youth. read more...
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