Swabhiman was initiated with the conviction that education is a cornerstone for development and empowerment of women. Hence, an intervention supporting the education of adolescent girls forms an integral part of this programme. Illiteracy, low priority on education for girls, very high dropout rate among adolescent girls, are some of the contextual and societal processes which this intervention addresses and focuses on the age group of young adolescent girls in the age group of 10-19 years.
A survey on the rate of out-of-school-girls, conducted in the Swabhiman intervention areas show that while 12% of the girls never went to school; 88% discontinued their schooling in the early years itself for reasons mainly like distance of the school, monetary limitations, engagement in household work or family business, looking after siblings and disapproval of parents.
Swabhiman programme identifies truly deserving but needy young adolescent girls in its intervention areas and provides full educational support to them. The programme, in addition, tries to bring about positive changes in the parental attitude of the girls by sensitizing them about the importance of sending their daughters to school, letting them finish their education thus creating good employment opportunities, resulting in overall development of the family.
The beneficiaries of this intervention of Swabhiman programme are girls who are victims of very difficult circumstances. They are mainly children of sex workers, children of leprosy or HIV/AIDS affected parents, children of single mothers, street children and children of victims of trafficked women. This intervention is implemented in slum areas of Delhi like Chattarpur, Neb Sarai, Dhaula Kuan, New Ashok Nagar and Shashi Garden.
Reproductive and Child Health
Providing reproductive health and child health services to currently married women, unmarried adolescent girls and children, is one of the major intervention areas of Swabhiman programme. These services are provided to the beneficiaries of the intervention areas through a mobile health clinic. A fully equipped van has been customized to provide reproductive and child health services at the doorsteps of the community dwellers. This clinic has facilities for clinical examination of patients belonging to the category of pregnant, lactating women and children.
This mobile clinic visits all the intervention areas of Swabhiman programme, basis a fixed roster, and extends low cost alternative health care support very carefully coordinated to the emergent needs of women and girls. Information regarding the visit schedule of the clinic is widely disseminated to ensure that the services are availed by the targeted groups. Qualified and trained medical and paramedical personnel form the main team of the clinic.
General health care services and basic curative services, ante-natal and post-natal services, child care services including immunization (facilitation), referral for high-risk pregnancies, abortions, sterilizations and other complications, services including distribution of condoms and Intra Uterine Devices (IUD) insertions, health and family planning education and nutrition education and treatment of anaemia are some of the major services that are provided through this mobile clinic.
This mobile clinic has been successful in weaning away women and girls from seeking services from community quacks. Simultaneously, with counselling and IEC interventions, responsible behaviour changes towards availing institutional services and government facilities and services, is inculcated among community women and adolescent girls. Through the promotion of positive health seeking behaviour, Swabhiman programme has been able to help in people availing services from governmental sources, thus facilitating regularity and proper functioning of governmental health outlets in the vicinity of the programme’s intervention areas.
Swabhiman programme premises that the best hope of empowering women and girls is to bring about attitudinal and behavioural changes in the community in general and the men in particular. This intervention is based on findings which state that in the community level, men are the decision makers in maximum households; and thus their active involvement is very crucial. Men in the community are oriented with appropriate messages on planned and responsible parenthood underlying the importance of increased male involvement in planning families, responsible fatherhood, adoption of permanent male sterilization, providing critical care support to spouse during pregnancy and ensuring safe delivery. Regular household visits, spouse counselling, informal meeting with family members and adolescent girls, activities encouraging better familial and spousal communication are some of the activities that are focused upon to bring about male involvement and attitudinal changes in them.
Swabhiman by far has been able to affirm through community actions and advocacy that though women and adolescent girls face numerous socio-cultural challeneges coming from their prescribed societal roles and ascribed status within the family, community and society, contravening such challenges is very much possible through creation of opportunities and enabling environment. The programme, thus also focuses on bettering the attitude and behaviour of women and adolescent girls individually, in order to develop in them, behaviour to seek their rights and eventually seek the methods through which they can realize their optimum potential in all facets of societal living. The Change Agents, who are identified from the community and developed to sensitize and educate community dwellers, regularly counsel and advocate the women and adolescent girls on issues concerning their reproductive and sexual health, family planning, adolescent health, acquiring life skills for self empowerment and education for holistic and sustainable development. Innovative tools like theme based street plays, puppet shows, mime shows, counselling sessions, one-to-one interactions, etc are used for community mobilization and awareness generation. An information centre is also developed where deliberation of contentious and sensitive issues are addressed. This centre, in addition, acts as a depot for provision of information on government schemes, distribution of family planning methods, etc.
Life Skill Education
Swabhiman was initiated with the conviction that empowerment of women and girls forms one of the cornerstones for their holistic development. Also though its continuous community actions and advocacy, Swabhiman has been able to establish that though women and girls face socio-cultural challenges in their societal roles and ascribed status within the family, community and society at large, such challenges can be addressed with enabling appropriate environment and creating suitable opportunities for them. Therefore the programme along with other modes of intervention also focuses on imparting life skill education to girls and women in its intervention areas.
Other than training and awareness generation inputs, the programme imparts life skill education modules to adolescent girls under which extensive orientation on specific gender issues and aspects of self-esteem, prestige and dignity, confidence building, negotiation skills, self defence techniques, gender-based attitude and behaviour, female foeticide and infanticide, career options for girls, implications of early marriage and pregnancy on women’s health, children’s and women’s rights, etc are undertaken.
Networking and linkages with government institutions is a major intervention under Swabhiman. The programme has undertaken networking with 4 types of community institutions namely Integrated Child Health Scheme (ICDS), health departments, educational institutions and panchayats. The fostering of network with such institutions has qualitatively impacted the outcome of efforts and activities and Swabhiman has always kept these organizations under the information loop ensuring possibilities of future convergence and relationships.
Networking is also done with 3 level structures of the health administration for the seamless implementation of its interventions:-
( a ) Primary level – working closely with Auxillary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) and Accredited Social health Activists (ASHA) workers in the community
( b ) Second level – coordination with Primary Health Centres (PHCs)/dispensaries
( c ) Third level – contact coordination with medical personnel at specialty hospital/institutions
Interface convergence support with government departments/agencies at the community level is also undertaken under the programme to complement and supplement each others’ interventions. Whether motivating eligible women and men to adopt modern methods of permanent contraception or facilitating the local ANMs for distribution of Iron and Folic Acid tablets or organising health camps in clusters in collaboration with the local health administrations or organisations of immunization camps fully cooperating with the local health machinery, Swabhiman takes the lead role always.
Privileged Women and Youth sensitization
Smile believes that to bring about desired change, participation of every individual is important. Therefore, Swabhiman programme also focuses on sensitizing the privileged mass, especially women and youth, regarding the problems of women in the country. This sensitization is carried out in various ways. Innovative advocacy events like walkathons, cyclothons; celebration of occassions (girl child day, World AIDS Day, Human Rights Day, etc); mime shows, puppet shows, street plays in specially organised events; advocacy through mass media; are some of the activities that are undertaken by Swabhiman for sensitizing the privileged women and youth.
Since spreading awareness among the privileged youth is a major focus, the programme has so far associated with reputed colleges and educational institutions like the IIMs (Ahmedabad, Indore, Calcutta and Lucknow), IITs (Kharagpur, Roorkee and Delhi), FMS Delhi, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, XISS Ranchi, IIPM Delhi, IMT Ghaziabad, Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communications Bangalore,IMI Delhi, Amity Unversity NOIDA, TAPMI Manipal, St. Xavier’s College Kolkata, NIFT Delhi, Delhi College of Arts, EMPI Business Schools, Jagan Institute of Management Studies Delhi, Lady Shri Ram College Delhi and Jesus and Mary College Delhi, to name a few.
In addition, the programme also associates with celebrated personalities for advocacy of the cause of women and girl child empowerment among the privileged. Celebrities like supercop Kiran Bedi, painter Anjoli Ela Menon, actors Manish Koirala, Sushma Seth, Farooque Sheikh, mountaineer Santosh Yadav, theatre personality Nadira Babbar, fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore, journalist Alka Saxena, to name a few, have so far associated with the programme.