Swachh Bharat Mission

Women’s needs are key to Swachh Bharat success


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Women's role in SBM

The article highlights the central role of women in the success of the Swacch Bharat Mission.

Recognising the gender dimensions of sanitation in India

  • The Swachh Bharat Grameen Phase I guidelines (2017) state that requirements and sensitivities related to gender are to be taken into account at all stages of sanitation programmes.
  • Planning, procurement, infrastructure creation, and monitoring are the basic tenets of implementation in Swachh Bharat and the guidelines for the first phase of the mission called for strengthening the role of women.
  • The states were accordingly expected to ensure adequate representation of women in the village water and sanitation committees (VWSCs), leading to optimal gender outcomes.
  • The department of Drinking Water and Sanitation released the guidelines, recognising the gender dimensions of sanitation in India.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission 2 .0 speaks of sustained behavioural change while embarking on the newer agendas of sustainable solid waste management and safe disposal of wastewater and reuse.
  • Besides the government, the role of non-state actors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Unicef and several NGOs, must be lauded as we pursue sustainable sanitation using a powerful gender lens.

Challenges and solutions

  • There were inevitably cases where women were fronts for spouses.
  • This capturing has happened in panchayat seats as well but research has shown that over time, women do pick up the challenge, and if voted back are likely to assume charge.
  • The government has also very effectively used over 8 lakh swachhagrahis, mainly women, who for small honorariums work to push through behavioural change at the community level.
  • There are no quick solutions other than adopting concerted approaches to ensure the survival and protection of the girl child through good health from sanitation and nutrition.
  • Information, education, and communication, which aims at behaviour change of the masses, is key to the success of the swachhta mission 2.0.
  • Changes in SBM messaging reflects major transformations attempting to popularise and portray stories of women groups and successful women swachhta champions.

Need for monitoring and evaluation system

  • A national monitoring and evaluation system to track and measure gender outcomes in SBM is necessary.
  • Several researchers in this space have commented that gender analysis frameworks have a long history in development practice.
  • We can learn from these frameworks to support design, implementation, and measurement.


There is no doubt that women can help to drive change and bring about lasting change as the jan andolan for swachhta, health and sanitation gains momentum.

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2 years ago

Great article ! Thank you CD


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