Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatan (JMS) is a rural Dalit women agricultural laborers’s collective in the district of Raichur, Karnataka. The leadership is entirely of Dalit (Indigenous) women. The campaign is wholly led by women.
Health rights issue has been particularly marginalized in the social movements’ domain and health issues continue to remain within the techno- bureaucratic stranglehold of experts, researchers and the like. Health NGOs which have been in the forefront of policy making have been gate-keeping this issue and infanticising communities on the pretext that “communities do not understand the larger political issues of health care policy”. The campaign led by JMS women is counter-narrative against the NGOised, apolitical practices and processes of NGOised approach to health rights while simultaneously striving to hold the governments of the day accountable. JMS work and practice in the context of the present Campaign therefore provides insights for health activism in general and for community led practices in health rights realization in particular.
The JMS campaign provided an insight into what goes into the making of a marginalized women-led health rights initiative. Their capacity was built through workshops, discussions, and other participatory processes. A pictorial tool developed not only helped them understand their entitlements, but also allowed them to lead the communities with the power of knowledge, and their collective power allowed them take the feedback and demand to the policy spaces. The maternal health rights campaign that was woven around the processes of this community based evidence for maternal health rights of Dalit women, focused primarily on two key dimensions: one, empowered community leadership and two, claiming and accessing spaces of policies for community feed back and improvement of the overall health system.
The advocacy processes and capturing policy spaces: (more…)