Mumbai-headquartered Mahindra Group is one of India's leading multinational conglomerate. The corporate social responsibility (CSR) chief of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd shares the group's vision of contributing to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with 'India Investment Journal'.
In response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to the nation exhorting all schools to have toilets exclusive for girls by 15th August 2015, the Mahindra Group pledged its support for the Clean India Campaign through the ′Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya′ (SBSV) programme and earmarked Rs 23 crores [$3.5mn] for building toilets and Rs 6 crores [$1mn] for maintenance and awareness creation.
We constructed 4,597 toilets primarily for girls in government schools, across 11 states, 104 districts, 404 admin blocks & 1,171 locations. Not only that, but the Group has also committed to maintain the toilets for a period of one year.
Studies indicate that when water, sanitation and hygiene are missing, schools face fair amount of absenteeism by girls. Girls are particularly vulnerable to dropping out of school partly because many are reluctant to continue their education when toilets and washing facilities are not private, safe or simply unavailable. Gender norms and physiology make privacy more important for girls than boys and by virtue of biological realities girls need adequate sanitary facilities at school to manage menstruation. Hence, Mahindra Group focused on girls' school in its infrastructure and human dimension intervention model.
The girls' toilets were required in government, elementary and secondary schools in hard to reach areas such as those in districts facing problems of insurgency and left wing extremism, remote mountainous terrain, forests and jungles and in rented buildings. Because of these challenges, the schools had been neglected. However, under the SBSV initiative, we devised an inclusive solution to ensure that no child is excluded including differently abled and, through innovative processes, overcame all the challenges in providing children access to toilets.
Our SBSV initiative is an integrated programme that comprises intervention in the areas of physical infrastructure, hygiene awareness and capacity building, upkeep and maintenance. The programme has a direct impact on 294 lakh users per day. Of the 1,171 locations where the Group has constructed toilets, 80 per cent are in rural locations.
While selecting the locations, we came across disparities across the country and meticulously selected the locations, in consultation with MHRD [Ministry of Human Resource Development], state level nodal agency, school authorities considering the following: