A nation’s GDP and unemployment rate are the most common parameters which determine where it lies on the development spectrum.
However, when it comes to knowing how well the citizens are served, policies, laws and guidelines set by the authorities determine the social progress of a country.
Taking ‘practice what you preach’ seriously, authorities in India, including the police force, legal courts, municipal bodies, state government are coming up with changes that may not be huge but are certainly impactful.
Here are five such examples:
1) Western Railway Gives Modern Age Spin To Ladies Coach
In the Mumbai local trains, the ‘sanskaari’ logo of a woman with a saree pallu over her head, which currently marks all the compartments reserved for women, is being replaced with a woman in a formal suit.
The coaches will also have posters of successful women including cricketer Mithali Raj, badminton champion Saina Nehwal, astronaut Kalpana Chawla, and so on according to Mumbai Mirror.
So far, two 12 coach-trains have been upgraded with a new logo.
To keep up with the changing times, WR is modernising the logo used to mark women’s coaches. Apart from the change in the logo, posters of inspiring women with details of their achievements will also be displayed in the ladies coaches, read a tweet by the Western Railway.
Lakhs of people commute by the Mumbai local; it is the ‘lifeline’ of the city. While this seems like a regular change, the idea is to represent the women of today adequately.
2) Breastfeeding Room at Taj Mahal
Breastfeeding is a natural and necessary process, and while it is strange that men need to be “sensitised” towards it, there have been several campaigns that aim to do so.
Even so, the fact that men squirm or cringe at the sight of a woman breastfeeding her child has resulted in it becoming a taboo.
In a bid to eliminate this social stigma, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) recently announced that it would introduce a baby feeding room in the premises of Taj Mahal, a monument that was built in the memory of a woman who died in childbirth.
Vasant Kumar Swarnkar an official from ASI that Taj Mahal is the first monument among 3,600 plus monuments to introduce such a facility.
I hope that more and more monuments—not only in India but around the world—replicate this (plan) so that women can feed their babies comfortably, Swarnkar told the Hindustan Times.
3) Jharkhand Municipal Administration Smash Menstrual Myths
Words like ‘periods,’ ‘menstruation,’ ‘sanitary pads,’ related to a woman’s biological process are still frowned upon in the country, and this behaviour is not restricted to the rural areas.
With movies like Padman educating people about periods, many government bodies across India are stepping up and taking measures to bring about a behavioural change.
One such example is of Simdega district in Jharkhand. The district administration has launched a massive public outreach campaign called ‘Garima Abhiyan’ that aims to educate people about menstrual hygiene.
“Lack of information has led to many misconceptions and taboos around menstruation. These [in turn] have created a societal silence regarding this subject. People don’t want to talk about it, families don’t discuss menstruation with their kids, and even teachers are silent on this topic. Thus, in order to break this social silence, to raise awareness and to bust myths around menstruation we have launched this campaign,” said Alok Kumar, Additional Collector, Simdega district, told NDTV.
For this, they have roped in locals and collaborated with a United Nations agency, Water Sanitation Supportive & Collaborative Council (WSSCC). So far, around 3000 groundworkers under the ‘Garima Fauj’ have visited more than 800 schools and 1000 anganwadis across all the villages in the district.
4) Kerala Schools Give Free Sanitary Pads
This is another path-breaking initiative which aims to eradicate the taboos around menstruation and promote menstrual hygiene among school girls.
In 2017, the Kerala government launched the ‘She Pad’ scheme to provide free sanitary napkins and eco-friendly incinerators in all government schools. The scheme has been implemented in 400 schools across the state reported The New Indian Express.
“Menstrual hygiene is every girl’s right. The scope of the scheme is not limited to the distribution of sanitary napkins. She Pad scheme aims to raise awareness about the need for menstrual hygiene. It also strives to break the taboo around the subject by helping girls to break free from the beliefs of impurity attached to it,” said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a Facebook post.
5) Transgender Rights, One Step At A Time
Should you ever choose to change your name, the legal process to do so, is extremely tedious.
In a bid to make it easier for trans people, the Karnataka High Court recently directed the Principal Secretary of the Education Department to notify educational institutions across the state about allowing them to change their name and gender in the official records, making it the first state in India to do so.
The judgment by the HC was as per the judgment of the Supreme Court in the NALSA case that recognised the fundamental and civil rights of trans people and allowed them to self-identify as male, female or third gender.
In addition to allowing trans people to bypass the lengthy and complicated name change procedure, this landmark judgement by the HC makes for a strong statement as changing a name is the first and most colossal step a person takes to affirm their gender identity.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)