Features this week
April 18, 2015
   

Women Health Workers Get ‘Smart’, Tech Savvy

   

Courage Chronicles: Women Who Spoke Up Against Sexual Harassment

   

Empowering Craftspersons, Rethinking Dhokra Tribal Art


 
   

Rafea Um Gomar: Engineer, Elected Representative, Bedouin Role Model

   

Taslima’s Choice: Be The ‘Bad Wife’ Or Get HIV

   

Exploring The Links Between Rape, Patriarchy, Society

   

Community Action Revives A Sick Primary Health Centre

   

When Geeta Discovered The Power Of Pink

   

‘Women’s Health Is Everyone’s Health’ Melinda Gates

   

For These New Moms, Yehi Hai Right Choice Baby!

   
   


 
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India
Women Health Workers Get ‘Smart’, Tech Savvy
Abha Sharma

Until a few weeks back, Meenakshi, an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife at Gurlai in Pali district of Rajasthan, used to have a tough time explaining to expectant women in her area why anaemia could be life threatening for them and their baby and how they could safeguard themselves. Despite repeatedly describing in detail the adverse consequences of neglecting their health and not having food with adequate nutritional input, most of them could never really understand the significance of Meenakshi’s counsel. However, ever since the ANM has gone high-tech, her job has become that much simpler and effective. Meenakshi is one of the 150 ANMs in the district who have been trained to use smart tablets to track maternal and child healthcare in the rural areas. Be it keeping a record of the antenatal check-ups, monitoring the status of immunisation or providing useful information related to health and well-being, the women perform the various tasks assigned to them ably assisted by their tablet, which is powered by a specially-designed software in Hindi.

The counselling video clips on my tablet and the visuals have made it so easy for me to help them understand why it is essential to pay attention to their diet or get the children vaccinated.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO406 1110 words


India
Courage Chronicles: Women Who Spoke Up Against Sexual Harassment
Anuradha Shukla

Anubha, a bright management trainee, used to be frequently called into the chamber of the managing director of the company she was employed with only to suffer through his lewd remarks and vulgar gestures. She kept rebutting his advances but he did not back down. Finally, after four months of stalking and harassment she filed a complaint. Her ordeal did not end there. According to this Economics gold medalist from Delhi University, “the whole office turned hostile. I was removed from all important projects and denied an increment. I was constantly humiliated during staff meetings. Only a handful of people, who could dare to go against the managing director, sympathised with me”. Tired of the endless torment she quit and it took her over a year of intensive therapy to gather the nerve to seek another job. Till date, she is “afraid to dress well” because she “does not want to attract attention”. But for a few recent high profile cases that grab the attention of the press and the authorities, the issue of workplace sexual harassment is still largely swept under the carpet. We bring the stories of a few courageous working women who decided to break the silence no matter the consequences.

‘I was not the only one to suffer sexual harassment at my last workplace but I chose to protest while others decided to keep silent.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO407 1280 words


India
Empowering Craftspersons, Rethinking Dhokra Tribal Art
Surekha Kadapa-Bose

There are many facets to Mandakini Mathur but they all converge into her passion to preserve nature and art. She is a successful documentary filmmaker, a much-loved teacher who helps children develop communication skills through theatre, and more importantly, she is the founder of the Devrai Art Village nestled in the hills of Panchgani in Maharashtra. At first glance, it’s difficult to picture Mathur as the woman who has single-handedly set up an art village in the midst of the evergreen forests of a hill station that is otherwise famous for its produce, especially strawberry and raspberry. Yet, there can be no disputing the fact that this fifty-something filmmaker-activist is the reason that tribal artists like the national award winning Suresh Pungati and others from the Naxal violence-affected areas around Gadchiroli and neighbouring Chhattisgarh have respectable employment today. While Mathur has provided the monetary assistance and the land for the unique facility that “strives to empower the craftsmen by giving them new design ideas and marketing possibilities” Pungati and his team of tribal artisans have “kept alive the tribal way of living, their beliefs and culture and their relationship with nature”.

‘By contemporising the ancient dhokra craft Devrai Art Village has developed its own technique of ‘rock dhokra’. In fact, it has even applied for a patent for the technique.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO410 1050 words


Jordan
Rafea Um Gomar: Engineer, Elected Representative, Bedouin Role Model

Born and raised in a remote Bedouin community in Jordan, Rafea Um Gomar has had to overcome abject poverty, face persecution by her own family members, and fight the conservative traditions to become the first female solar engineer in her country.

‘Imagine, now I can say that I am the very first female solar engineer in Jordan, which in my community is even difficult for a man to say. Indeed, not even men can aspire to achieve such an education.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: JORO406 1200 words


India
Taslima’s Choice: Be The ‘Bad Wife’ Or Get HIV

Taslima Banu, 26, lost her husband to AIDS in 2006 but she does not mourn his death. If at all, she blames him bitterly for consciously and forcibly infecting her. Her husband was a migrant labourer working in Mumbai for a few years. It was after he came back to their hometown, Kolkata, that he underwent medical tests that revealed his positive status. Even then he did not share the details with her. It was when she got an STD that she suspected something was amiss and requested that he use condoms. Instead of paying heed, he would beat her up and force himself on her saying: ‘If I die what will you live for?’ Despite enduring the trauma of marital rape nearly every day, Taslima could never share any of this with her close relatives. After all, how could she refuse her husband sex? How could she demand that he use protection? Wouldn’t people immediately declare her to be a ‘bad wife’? In this excerpt from ‘Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS: Exploring Politics of Women’s Health in India’, published by Sage, Skylab Sahu, author, teacher and independent researcher, reveals how women like Taslima, trapped by patriarchal norms, are rendered powerless and pushed into a life of disease and death.

‘She could not protect herself from infection, as initially she could not understand how to react against forcible and violent sexual behaviour of her husband. She thought it was shameful to disclose such a private affair.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO408 1000 words
 
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