| Apr 16, 2018
VV's Grassroots Monitoring Gives Boost to Reproductive Rights in India
Women Get Maternity Benefits Worth Over $600,000
We’re delighted to share our progress over the last couple of months; our network of Community Correspondents has been reporting on a wide range of issues from the rights of indigenous communities to primary education and rural healthcare. As always, we are also working towards scaling hyperlocal impact. Reproductive rights is a major focus area for us and an area where we’re especially working on creating more impact in. We’re grateful for your support in the cause and happy to share some of our stories from the field here.
Correspondent Chetan Salve reports from a predominantly tribal region in Western India. A year ago, he unearthed a major loophole in one of India’s largest reproductive rights schemes. The gap in the scheme was depriving women in need of the maternity benefits that they were entitled to, compelling them to toil on the fields in the ninth month of pregnancy and right after childbirth. Chetan produced a video report on the issue and used social media, particularly WhatsApp, to take the story all the way up to the state’s highest legislative body. This prompted the Ministry of Finance to sanction 40 million rupees (USD 613,200) to ensure that the scheme reached the intended beneficiaries.
Over five women die every hour in India owing to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. The reasons, to name a few, are lack of healthcare facilities, non-implementation of schemes, lack of information and poor quality of care. Chetan’s story is illustrative of how grassroots media can hold governments accountable and monitor their performance.
Your support can help network produce more reports on crucial issues of healthcare and rights and help us amplify women’s voices.
At VV, over the last one year, our Community Correspondents have been monitoring the availability, accessibility and quality of maternal health services and schemes from a rights-based perspective. We are particularly focusing on respectful and ethical care, the centrality of women’s experiences in reproductive rights, and on community action in promoting reproductive rights. In Rajasthan, for instance, Shambhulal Khatik looked at the importance of women being decision-makers at the hyperlocal level in matters pertaining to reproductive rights.
Another area of focus is the role of caregivers, especially of community health workers who are, in essence, the foot soldiers of India’s public health system.In West Bengal, Susanti Indwar reported on the role community health workers are playing in increasing the number of institutional deliveries. West Bengal also has a severe shortage of ambulances which affects institutional delivery rates. When a woman in Bikash Barman’s village had to deliver her baby at home, which led to complications, he resolved to solve the problem and did-- through a video report and regular follow-ups with the district authorities.
In another part of the state, Jahanara Bibi documented the story of health workers counselling men to undergo sterilisation in an attempt to break away from the stigma attached to male sterilisation. Interestingly, Chetan has even taken a step forward and decided to undergo a sterilisation operation himself to dispel myths about the procedure and its effects.
In Jharkhand, a state with a maternal mortality ratio much below the national average, Shanti Baraik and Shikha Pahadin looked at the state of the biggest government hospitals in their respective districts. The differences were startling; while Shikha heard stories of abuse and negligence, Shanti’s video featured satisfied new mothers. Shikha is now working to change things at the hospital she reported on.
Our correspondents have also looked at institutional delivery and maternal health in Jharkhand through a data survey. Data surveys are conducted as part of our Surveys for Action project which seeks to close the data gap in rural India.
We hope to conduct more surveys of the kind and produce more reports that help make the public health system efficient. Your support can help us step-up our impact and build a better system of reproductive rights for women in India. Donate now!
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