India's Toilet Cleaners Ready To Hit The Catwalk

October 5, 2015

Next month, Ms Atwal, who hails from the Alwar region in Rajasthan, will sashay down a catwalk in New York with top Indian models.

It’s in New York, the Fourth of July week, attended by the Who’s who of Hollywood and with the likes of Matt Damon, Beyonce Knowles and Bill Gates in the audience, and for which Pandit Ravi Shankar’s daughters Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar will provide song and music!

Ms Atwal and 29 other female toilet cleaners now have other jobs thanks to a rehabilitation programme run by a local firm Sulabh International.

These women will participate in a series of events by the United Nations to mark the International Year of Sanitation.

During their stay in New York, the 30 women will present a short film on their lives as well as take part in a fashion show.

Ms Atwal said: 'A year ago I was looked down upon as an outcast in my village, but now I am ready to fly in a plane and take part in a fashion show.'

Sulabh International, which runs modern public toilets in India, helped transform these women's lives.

They introduced programmes that have taught cleaners other skills such as embroidery and making noodles and pickles.

In India, thousands of low caste Indian women are paid to clear human waste from open-air toilets, as basic sanitation still eludes millions in the countryside.