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Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh Sunday called upon the bureaucracy to be more gender sensitive while constructing low cost toilet blocks in villages as it is linked to the empowerment of women.

The minister pulled up the administrative machinery across the country for half-heartedly implementing the scheme.

He said that as per Census 2011, 60 percent of village households did not have access to proper toilets and urged the need for greater “gender sensitivity” in implementing the total sanitation campaign to end defecation in the open.

Ramesh was delivering the keynote address at a two-day National Consultation on Gender Empowerment, organised by the Univeristy of Mumbai and UN Women, at the varsity’s Kalina Campus here.

The minister appreciated the success of the scheme in Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh and said that around 35 percent of villages in Maharashtra had also become free from open defecation.

Referring to gender empowerment, Ramesh said that it was a built-in component in most top programmes of his ministry.

“Rural roads have improved mobility of women, increased continuation of schooling by adolescent girls who now cycle on better paved roads and made delivery of health services more efficient,” Ramesh said.

Ritu Dewan, professor, centre for gender economics in University of Mumbai, introduced the subject with a concept note at the two-day consultation which attracted policy makers, academics, NGOs, civil society activists and activists.



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