Women Health Development Project (WHD)

The WHD-II was aimed at building the capacities of women members of self-help groups (SHGs), to facilitate them to ameliorate their own and family health as well as improve knowledge regarding health care and disseminate the information of the various services being provided by the government. Broadly, the second phase of the project endeavoured to consolidate and expand the activities of the first phase of the WHD project. This project was implemented by the Centre to train women leaders from 72 SHGs of Chittorgarh district in Rajasthan state.

The Centre has taken up the “Women’s Health and Development (WHD)” project in two phases, the first one, WHD-I, during the period 1999-2000 and, subsequently, the WHD-II during the period of 2000-01. The WHD-I and II were implemented with the support of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India), New Delhi, and financial assistance from the WHO (South-East Asia Region), New Delhi.

The objectives of the project

  • enable women to gain a better appreciation, improved negotiating skill, enhanced decision-making power, increased access to information and knowledge of health;
  • improve their accessibility to health services at the village and institutional levels and water and sanitation facilities; and
  • sensitise the related government department officials at the state and district levels and ensure better response from the administration regarding the services.

The training participants of 72 self-help groups (SHGs) identified for the project were selected from six blocks of the Chittorgarh district. The selection of the SHGs was based on the method of purposive sampling. The six selected blocks, Nimbahera, Kapasan, Bhadesar, Gangrar, Chhoti Sadri and Chittorgarh, were chosen to include at least two blocks with only rural population.

The broad framework of the implementation of the WHD-II project involved two major components, the first being the follow-up of the previous training programmes and the second being the organisation of workshops, to incorporate attitudes of sensitivity as well as initiation among various stakeholders from the village to the state level.

The objectives of the first component were to augment the capability of the project implementing team on health counselling, ensure continuity of the previously imparted information on health issues and evaluate the interventions and subsequent capacity building.

The objectives of the second component were to sensitise the respective government departments on the health problems of women, for effective formulation of the relevant policies, facilitate various government departments for working with an integrated approach and ensure availability as well as accessibility of health services to women.

Activities undertaken in the project

  • Refresher training of master trainers;
  • Three-spell training for women leaders;
  • One training/workshop of Medical Officers and Primary Health Centre (PHC) staff;
  • One district level workshop; and
  • Two state level workshops.

Major outcomes of the project

  • improvement in the health status, negotiation skills and decision-making power of rural women;
  • qualitative and quantitative improvement in the accessibility and availability of government health care services;
  • establishment of health-service forums, drug depots, etc., at the village-level; and
  • constitution of village health committees.

Significant Achievements

  • Every month, the SHG meeting is held at a particular mutually agreed place, where the members conduct the “savings and credit transaction processes”.
  • The SHG members now have a deeper understanding of issues related to “obstetric care, reproductive health, nutrition and women’s health, consequences of violence against women, mental health of women, water-borne diseases and sanitation and hygiene problems”.
  • The women members of some of the SHGs have realised the relevance of conservation and revitalisation of traditional natural water resources as well as water harvesting, in the context of prevailing drought scenario.
  • The mobilisation, networking and advocacy efforts of CUTS CHD have been recognised and appreciated by various organisations/agencies.
  • The Centre is also an invitee member of the District Environment Committee, the policy making body of the Chittorgarh district on ‘degradation control and regeneration’ issues of environment.