Jehanabad district, Bihar: Poonam Devi and Nageena Devi are happy and proud women today. They have every reason to be. Leading from the front, they have succeeded in their mission to ensure that nobody in their village defecates in the open. They achieved this by building toilets in their homes and motivating others to follow suit.
Poonam, in her mid 40s, is the head of Ujwal Gram Sanghatan, a women’s self-help group (SHG) in Kalanaur village. She is one of the thousands of jeevika didis (livelihood sisters). Nageena, who heads the Tulsi Samuh SHG of Dharnai village in Makhdumpur block of Jehanabad district, is also a jeevika didi. They are called this since their SHGs have been formed under Jeevika, the Bihar government’s rural livelihood programme.
The jeevika didis have been motivating rural women to construct toilets and to use them for self-dignity and better hygiene.
Change begins at home
“When I decided to construct a toilet in my house by taking loan from my SHG, none but my husband opposed it. He felt that there was no need for a toilet since we live in a mud house. I finally convinced him and constructed it,” Poonam told VillageSquare.in.