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That women can voice their grievances and intervene to put forward what is right has once again been proved by the women of a remote village in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India.

Deoria is a small village in Udaipura district of the state. Dominated by the ‘musahar’ community,the village women have to combat poverty every day of their lives. The families being very poor have very property or land that they can call their own.

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Under such circumstances when a local contractor began digging pits for the purpose of making toilets in front of each house, the women put down their feet. It wasn’t a question of hygiene but a question of protecting the dignity of their land. The toilets being constructed in front of each house would mean the children wouldn’t have a place to play, the women wouldn’t have a space to themselves where they would cook.

Moreover, the people said that the contractor was engaged in corruption and mal practices.

SDF, which has a strong presence in the area, stood with the women of the area.  SDF’s coordinator in the area, Ms Sangeeta, explained that they were not against toilets but it is essential to understand that when people have no houses to live, there has to be a judicious use of the land available. They suggested that Community toilets could be built at the village Panchayat land and each family be handed over one toilet for personal use. That would be feasible and would make the village much clean than anticipated.

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With the support of SDF, the village women joined hand, wrote a memorandum, invited the attention of the media and compelled the officials to visit the village and probe their points. The officials were in agreement with the cause of the women, thus suspending the programme till a better planning was in place.  They promised to look into the issue seriously and take action accordingly.

SDF’s interventions in village Udaipura in district Deoria of Uttar Pradesh is already well documented by International Land Coalition under the best practices. This adds one more feather to the pride of the organisation as well as of the local women.

(Reported by: VidyaBhushan Rawat, SDF)

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