The saleswomen in Kerala are scared to gulp a glass of water during their duty hours. The reason, the shops they worked at did not provide them with toilet facilities. Many of them even became victims of urinary diseases over the years. These women are also deprived of a seat to sit at their workplace as they have to stand up before their customers.
The ‘macho’ trade unions in Kerala, however, overlooked this for years. In 2009, a woman among these hapless labourers floated an organization ‘Penkoottu’ (Women nest) at Kozhikode and it organised “struggle for a facility to urinate” (Moothrapura samaram) and “struggle for a facility to sit” (Irikkalsamaram).
Moothrapura samaram and Irikkal samaram were a first-of-its-kind in the history of Kerala. The 9-year old fight of Penkoottu has now resulted in Kerala government amending the Shop and Commercial Establishment Act in July this year, ensuring that a shop must have toilet and seating facility for its staff.
The leader of ‘Penkoottu’, 50-year-old Viji P from Kozhikode, has now been selected by the BBC as one among the 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world.
For more on this report by Team StoryInfinity read – Outlook.