Empowering Adolescent Girls
In 2014, the Dalit Mahila Vikas Mandal (DMVM) was supported by the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) for a pilot project to build capacities of the Village Health Nutrition and Sanitation Committees functioning at the village level in Beed District that recorded the highest decline in CSR in the Country between 2001 and 2011. The CSR in this district declined from 894 in 2001 to 807 in 2011. Beed is also one of the critical districts identified under BBBP. The basic presumption was that working with VHNSCs and discussing their role in addressing the issue of sex selection would be useful not only when they make village plans for health and development but also to break the nexus between providers of sex selection services and agents. In addition, members of the VHNSCs are influential persons from the village community and orienting them on the issue of sex selection can help to trigger a change in social norms related to son preference and value of the girl child.
Under the project, 148 Master trainers including ANMs, LHVs, MO PHC and ICDS supervisors were identified and on the issue of gender, sex selection and PCPNDT Act. The trained master trainers, in turn, built capacities of 12420 out of the 13500 VHNSC members on the issue of gender, sex selection, the PCPNDT Act and the important role they can play in making implementation of the Act effective as well as in promoting the improved health status of women and girls.
An important outcome of this capacity building exercise was that the Collector of Beed issued a Government Order that VHNSC members would take up the issue of sex selection and improving value of the girl child as the key issue of discussion in the Gram Sabha on 26th Jan 2015. The Collector requested us to sensitise block level officers (teachers, naib tehsildars, BDOs, etc) who would attend the Gram Sabha on 26th and ensure that the issue of sex selection and unwantedness of girls is addressed. As a build up to the Gram Sabha on 26th January, a campaign on sex selection and improving the value of the girl child was planned and rolled out in the entire district. On 26th almost all Gram Sabhas discussed issues related to improving the status of women and girls. Some of the key resolutions taken in the GramSabha included:
No couple in the village would go in for sex selection
Welcoming the birth of a girl child.
Felicitating couples and families who neither took nor gave dowry
Following the work in Beed, in 2015-16 we have trained master trainers in all 10 BBBP districts to in turn build capacities of VHNSC members.