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India
Labs That Skill Nurses To Save Mothers
Ashok Kumar

Deepshikha and Kirti Kiran Murmu make a living providing quality health care and counselling services to new mothers who come to the Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College and Hospital (JLNMCH) in Bhagalpur, Bihar. As the staff nurses at this nodal medical facility in the area these women have undergone a specialised programme at the in-house Skills Lab that provides basic training to General Nurse Midwives, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives, Staff Nurses, Nursing Supervisors and Medical Officers, who are key to delivering Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) in the community. The six-day comprehensive curriculum, which includes theory classes as well as demonstration and knowledge sessions on topics related to maternal and child health, has not only enabled the dedicated women to “enhance my skills in ante-natal, intra-natal and post-natal care, which are crucial in this field” and “better understand the significance of counselling new mothers on issues like exclusive breastfeeding” but also learn how to decontaminate, clean, sterilise and store equipment, crucial for preventing infections.

“The nurses enrolled at the Skills Lab go through several practice sessions that make them confident in delivering better results in the field.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP419 1050 words



Is Going Right, The Right Choice?
Elayne Clift

Anyone who saw Donald Trump asking for a Hitler-like salute to accompany a vote pledge from his supporters, or watched an angry follower elbow-punch a protester in the face, it should be an indicator of the times to come if he were to take the White House. Trump’s behaviour, ideas and political rants are outrageous and alarming. The hate inherent in his supporters is a scary reminder that a lot of Americans stand on shaky ground. But the US is not alone in the fact that about half its population is dangerously right wing. Recently, Spain’s conservative government strengthened laws originally aimed at controlling separatists, which resulted in the prosecution of a musician and a poet whose work suggested criticism of the administration. Even before the Paris attacks in November last year France had reinforced a similar gag law to punish statements deemed to be ‘inciting terrorism’. In Poland, the ultra-conservative government has cleared the way for hard line legal changes, including a likely total ban on abortion and further curbs on gender and human rights. And, meanwhile, Israel continues its trek right. The shift right in so many countries, possibly including the US, is perhaps the most important issue that people will be forced to grapple with in coming days.

* In Turkey, the Erdogan government recently seized the largest circulation newspaper in the country which had been critical of his leadership. Within 48 hours it was publishing pro-Erdogan propaganda.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: OPIP419 890 words


India
Women Chikan Artists Mean Business
Mehru Jaffer

Once, Tabassum, 25, and Sheeba, 26, had wanted to apply for a bank loan. Under the cover of their full-length ‘burqa’, the two had made their way to the branch of the nearest bank, criss-crossing through many narrow lanes in Lucknow's congested Madegunj Khadra neighbourhood. Encouraged by the recent sale of their embroidery on cloth, the two were excited about the possibility of expanding their work and perhaps even striking out on their own. ‘We wanted money to buy more cloth. We dreamt of having our own wooden frames, more needles and more thread,’ recalls Tabassum. However, after spending a few minutes with the bank official they promptly dropped the idea of applying for the Rs 50,000 loan. Instead, they scooted back to the safety of their home because the official had asked them to visit him later at home. That day, the duo would never have imagined that they’d eventually be able to realise their dream of becoming independent artisan-entrepreneurs, selling clothes embellished with their exquisite hand-crafted chikankari embroidery. Today, Tabassum and Sheeba are part of a group of 25 women chikan ‘kaarigars’ who have moved on from the days of exploitative, back-breaking work and poor pay to being the masters of their designs and destinies.

“I have been embroidering for as long as I can remember but it is only now that I embroider with a passion I did not know I had.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP411F 1290 words


India
Sex Work Is WORK
Pushpa Achanta

Twenty-nine-year-old Indira from Gadag district in northern Karnataka, the 30-something Maheen from Haveri, Prabha Devi from Pune, Kiran, Sangita and many other women who make a living doing sex work have upped their campaign for decriminalsing their “profession” instead of the proposed legalisation. Through collectives and organisations like the Uttara Karnataka Mahila Okkutta (UKMO), Saheli Sangh and Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP), these women are furiously advocating for their rights as women and as sex workers, even as they make concerted efforts to speak openly about their lives so that regular people and those in power, who are convinced that they are either trafficked or coerced into sex work and are, in fact, “immoral, criminal and carriers of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)”, come face-to-face with their true realities. Surely, the fact that Indira, Maheen and their sister-colleagues have been able to provide comfortable lives and better opportunities to their siblings and children “thanks to the work we do” is reason enough to understand the need for decriminalising their job instead of creating more barriers and, consequently, avenues for exploitation.

Decriminalisation will encourage sex workers to access HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes without fearing stigma, discrimination and harassment by the police and other agencies.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP412 1200 words


India
These girls Have Traded Barbies for Bats
Baseera Rafiqi

It’s a hot, sunny day and a small group of girls is running, sweating it out in the playground. They have donned tracks, their hair is neatly tied up and they are all wearing earphones to drown out the continuous teasing and comments from curious and even insolent passersby. They are all young, under 25 years, fearless and ambitious to make a name for themselves – as cricketers! This is a small, local girls’ cricket team, which under the leadership of its coach and trainer Sakeena Akhtar, is not just breaking stereotypes in Kashmir but is also proving that no dream is too big for the Valley girls to fulfil. Although most of them are realistic about their prospects, and for now, are just glad to be able to get outdoors and play, they do hope to get into the game professionally. Of course, their winning attitude comes from their teacher and mentor, Akhtar, who has spent many years fighting the system and a conservative society to bring sports to girls.

“I have girls coming in from far flung areas to play cricket. Last year, there was a girl from Pehelgam (in south Kashmir) who is now playing from Punjab.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP413 900 words
 
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