AWAJ - Health and Reproductive Well Being
The state of India cares little about the deeper aspects of women’s health and is mainly interested in population control, prenatal care and safe motherhood. As a result, we as part of the larger Women’s Movement in India have criticized the current status quo. The critique has pushed the policy makers, us and other NGOs to look at women’s health care issues beyond medical care. We have worked for the integrated development model, which includes a focus on the socio-cultural, economic and political growth as well. Each of these aspects has a deep influence on health. Therefore, we believe it is not possible to raise the health status and quality of life of women unless the efforts are made to enhance the overall status of women in society and also challenge acts of human rights violation.
In Himachal Pradesh, the family, society and state have ignored women for a long time. Gender indoctrination discourages women from paying attention to health needs of their body and forces them to remain silent about many of their sexuality related problems. The image of good women, in India, is one who is confined to four walls, quiet, submissive and sacrificing. The society of Himachal Pradesh too, caught in the web of this “good women” image, has forced women to become submissive and indoctrinated. Adding onto this, the traditional healing practices where women’s knowledge was important are slowly fading out.
For a long time, what escaped the attention of many developmental planners was a very large group of women and adolescent girls who suffered multiple health problems and had no redressal mechanism to respond to their needs without any moral judgement. As a women’s organization, it is our assumption that in order to address the overall wellbeing of women, rural communities must be made more capable and proactive. This will only occur when women and young girls demand their rights by engaging with the health delivery systems and demand health facilities including information on their own bodies and wellbeing.
What we’ve done
In the last 10 years, Jagori Grameen has worked at multiple levels. We have initiated a systematic effort to impart information to women about their own bodies, organize camps to investigate and treat women’s common ailments, affirm women’s traditional knowledge and train them in body literacy and physiological aspects, work with mid wives and improve their knowledge base, produce herbal home remedies and proliferate them in rural communities.
So far, Jagori Grameen has conducted a number of health surveys, regular training of midwives and healers as community health activists, evolved a body literacy curriculum and conducted 55 body literacy and reproductive health sessions with 5000 adolescent children from various schools, and produced booklets on herbal healing plants for gynecological ailments, menstruation and similar issues. In addition, we have conducted a number of Women’s Wellbeing Weeks that have reached out to over 1,200 women and refer over 100 women to local health institutions of the state. We have also conducted a number of workshops. Two healing centres located in remote villages are being managed by local health activists trained by Jagori Grameen. Their purpose is to provide care and referrals to women. A very important part of the health work is conduct intensive campaigns in all the three blocks of the district to sensitize people on problems arising due to the practices of sex selective abortions.
In the last five years, in various Government Colleges for Girls, where about 5000 students study, teachers, in collaboration with Jagori Grameen, have organized a number of workshops, training sessions on issues of Gender Equality. We have linked the issue of gender equality with issues related to violence. Multiple methods are used including but not limited to workshops by gender experts from Jagori Grameen, mass sensitization, pledge taking, film screening, discussions, street plays, poster making, creative writing, painting, marches, developing and distributing printed material and holding Youth Adalats where the students themselves are jury members.