NEW DELHI: In an effort to persuade the Centre to recognise that a major reason for the country's dismal record in sanitation has been its failure to involve women in its planning and implementation, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation here has partnered with several non-governmental organisations to expand its work into some critical new areas of development including "women and sanitation".
A release issued by the Foundation said it was developing a South Asian network of sanitation activists to share experience and give the women's role a higher profile.
The Foundation is also supporting Gram Vikas in Orissa to achieve 100 per cent sanitation in select villages with full community participation and management.
"Many of India's distressing health indicators are caused by lack of sanitation and hygiene. Almost 60 years after independence, as many as 700 million people still have no access to toilets. Women are the worst affected and have to suffer the indignity of open defecation on a daily basis with all its problems. In the absences of sanitation, water supply gets polluted and lakhs of children die every year due to water-borne diseases.
Making people more aware of the link between hygiene and health and providing vastly increased access to sanitation is essential for reducing this disease burden.
Sanitation is a key development intervention,'' said a Foundation official.
The Foundation is also working in areas like female foeticide, child labour and education for underprivileged children.
Meanwhile, commemorating former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's 62nd birth anniversary on August 20, the Foundation presented 50 motorised vehicles to disabled individuals from different parts of the country.
Of the 50 recipients, 24 were women.