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Walkathon to create awareness about Sanitation by COWE

Walkathon to create awareness about Sanitation

Hyderabad, 20 January 2013: The Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs (COWE), a not-for-profit organization of women entrepreneurs organized COWE Walkathon to create awareness about the problems related to open defecation and poor conditions of public toilets. The 4km walkathon was held today i.e. Sunday, 20th January at 6:30 AM at People's Plaza, Necklace Road, Hyderabad. About 1000 people participated in the walkathon.

Women and girls face shame and a loss of personal dignity and risk their security due to lack of proper sanitation facilities. 'Project Sanitation' is a new initiative of COWE to create awareness about the problems related to open defecation and poor conditions of public toilets and to create women social entrepreneurs to take on the job of operations and maintenance of the toilets.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, MLA, President - Lok Satta Party; P.C. Gupta, AP Controller for Sulabh International; Uday Lakshmi, IAS, Commissioner for Social Welfare; Actress and Animal activist Amala Akkineni; Former Mrs. India Designer Shilpa Reddy; and several other celebrities, students, working women and women entrepreneurs graced the occasion.

Lack of sanitation has various health, economic, social development and environmental consequences. Access to proper toilets and sanitation is an indicator of human development, failure to provide the same is failure on several fronts of the society. According to UNICEF, only 31 per cent of India's population use improved sanitation. India is home to 638 million people defecating in the open; over 50 per cent of the population whereas in countries like Bangladesh and Brazil, only seven per cent of the population defecates in the open. In China, only four per cent of the population defecates in the open, informed Ms. P. Soudhamini, President - COWE.

As perceived by many lack of proper sanitation is not just rural or slum problem but also the consequences are reflected in all strata of the society, because for the virus, bacteria and infectious diseases there is no discrimination. Open defecation contaminates and spreads through air, water and other means which can reach any household that has proper toilets. No wonder we have more children dying of Diarrhea and suffering from food poisoning. Diarrhea, which is the direct result of poor sanitation, is the second biggest cause of death in children under 5 years in India - taking the lives of almost five lakh children each year.

Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs has as part of their contribution to the society under the new initiative 'Project Sanitation' have come up with a plan to act with responsibility on the following: Better Sanitation - Awareness on safe and clean toilets and voicing for banning open defecation; Women Empowerment - to ensure women live with dignity and respect by earning through social entrepreneurship; Environmental Sustainability- women to manage and maintain private and public toilets to eradicate open defecation. The COWE Walkathon was organized as a part of this initiative.

Under India's ambitious goal of providing "Sanitation for All" by 2012, established under its Total Sanitation Campaign, twenty two states missed the target date as per UNICEF and WHO resulting in moving the date to 2022. Under the 'Project Sanitation', COWE has taken up to work for - Shift in mindset to change habits; Create alternative viable cost effective facilities; Facilitate through simple and usable technology; promote Public and Private Partnership; and convert waste to energy as an income generating program.

COWE is a body of over 550 women entrepreneurs working towards promoting social and economic development of women through entrepreneurship.
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