Barefoot doctors: Dalit illiterate women are trained to be barefoot doctors for the first time in Bihar. Only young mothers were selected to wake the silent group of the society. In the span of about ten years around 1000 women were trained in the sphere of 150 villages.
Education: To remove the fear of literacy Samuday made the literacy simple, combined with songs and plays. Samuday has contributed to making 8000 literate and aware citizens in the span of 10 years.
Personality development and skill training residential school for adolescent girls: The project was accepted by the government of Bihar. Samuday has trained 150 girls in the skill in literacy.
Cycle program: Around 1000 cycles were distributed to adolescent girls and women which impacted 500 villages in gender equality.
Small loans: Loan program was implemented to help Dalit women start their small busineeses like general stores, small eateries or goatery. Samuday has helped 500 Dalit women in the time span of 15 years.
Drinking water: Installation of 550 hand pumps.
Toilets: Toilets were made in 50 villages.
Flood relief: Programs on flood relief were carried out during floods on large scale. Nutrition program were a part of flood relief program.
Charity work: distribution of clothes, blankets, shoes, toys among the poorest and most needy.
Tree plantation: Around 3000 plantations were done in 60 villages.
The organization till date has been able to train around 1000 illiterate Harijan/Dalit women as health workers .Equipped with knowledge of health Education and trained in elementary curative skills , they are effectively dispensing these services in their respective areas . They also double as social animators by making the women aware of the interrelationship between their oppressed status and their health status .
The organization in its bid to train illiterate women as health workers , has been able to perfect a health training module with accompanying training material. Substituting symbols for the written word and with a rigorous system of follow up , the health training has proved extremely effective . As of date the organization has extended the benefits of this training program to 17 other organizations.
As a consequence of its health awareness efforts , nearly all the pregnant women in its operational area undergo TT inoculation and all infants are administered DPT and polio vaccines. Women awareness of reproductive health has gone up significantly. The use of green leafy vegetables and home made nutrient mix has come to be widely practiced. Sanitary practices have greatly improved and so has the awareness about safe drinking water with more and more people using water from hand pumps . The practice of moving about barefoot has considerably reduced with more and more women using slippers . Apart from its positive health related implications , it has also had a salutary social implication as the practice was socially and culturally discouraged by upper-caste people of the area .
As part of its non formal education program, the organization has been able to raise the literacy level of the children in the age group 5 to 14 to 65%. 40% of these literate children are girls. It has also been able to develop an innovative curriculum for the NFE centres . Around 100 local youth have been trained to conduct the NFE centres . Guardians committee to monitor and to contribute to the running of the NFE centres have come up in 60 villages .
A core group of 5 women each has come up in 50 villages . They are currently being traind in running organizational affairs and to act as facilitators for the larger group to evolve from within the target group . Three groups of women have already acquired the skills to organize and conduct meetings and camps. Awareness level of women has gone up considerably. This is reflected in reduced instances of wife beating and more and more instances of women protesting against domestic violence and other forms of Intra-familial discrimination. Women now are able to resolve their disputes on their own . They have also become aware of their right to ownership . Early marriages are on the decline and the practice of birth spacing is becoming more and more prevalent. To challenge patriarchal taboos , around 50 women and girls have been trained to ride bicycles.Women have also been imparted Income generating skills which are new to the area.
The organization of community work related to health must take into consideration the following major issues/aspects/factors.
- Relationships of women among themselves
- The changes in the position/status of women according to age
- Relationships among males as a determinant of relationships among women, and also of their status.
- What are the messages to be communicated ?
- How are they worded, organized or arranged ?
- Construction of the messages to be done, keeping in mind the psychological make – up of the rural women
- What is the structure of the families ?
- The decision – making power is concentrated in very few persons in undemocratic families.
- The male elders make decisions for everyone else.
- Obedience (no questions; no discussion) is considered to be the character of a “good” woman.
- Thus there are many barriers in receiving and acting upon new messages.
- Many customs and practices prevail in families, which deprive women of their identity and which make her totally dependent and which project her as such. For example –
- Women are taught not to utter their own names.
- Children are taught not to utter their mothers’ names.
- Eating in the presence of others is considered bad.
- Customarily women are required to eat only after all male members of the family have eaten and at a place where no one can see them eating.
- They have to retain the veils on their faces even in the inner courtyards of their houses.
There are customs to minimize communication among the women. Putting on veils in the presence of husband’s elder brother and even the elder women embodies the lesson that a woman should talk and express herself as less as possible.
- The daughter-in-law is prohibited from visiting people even in the immediate neighborhood.
A few years after marriage, on very limited social occasions she is permitted to go for singing folk songs. However, she is prohibited from attending the dinner following the death of a person or from participating in the Barat (a marriage procession).
In these and other ways the rural families have ensured minimal communication for their womenfolk.
- No decision – making rights and consequently no power to women in the reproductive age and more over regarding reproduction.