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Women and Community Empowerment, Maharashtra
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Subject Area="Urban Health." Objective="Access to family planning."
Details for Reform Option "Women and Community Empowerment, Maharashtra"

Background: Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation covers 96 wards including 62 villages in Thane district on the outskirts of Mumbai, and has a population of 1,193,266. The sex ratio is 884. KDMC is surrounded by an industrial belt which attracts migrants, leading to unplanned growth of slums where even basic sanitation services are not available. The population density is as high as 11,585 per square foot. The infant mortality rate is high with less than half of pregnant women receiving full antenatal care. While almost all married women in KDMC are reportedly aware of family planning, only a little more than half are currently using any method. Only 24.3% of adolescent girls from slum areas have heard of Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), whereas over 75% have heard of HIV/AIDS. Action: With financial and technical assistance from the UNFPA, the Integrated Population and Development project was first implemented in 2000 with the aim of improving women’s and adolescent reproductive health. Now in its second phase, 2003 to 2007, the UNFPA-assisted IPD project places a strong emphasis on creating opportunities for women through community empowerment, to develop links with the health service system. It aims not only to improve women’s reproductive and general health but to reduce gender-based violence and improve women’s understanding of their reproductive rights. It supports activities to improve family planning as well as advocacy activities for gender equality. Various NGOs are involved in the implementation of the IPD project. Reach Education and Action Project (REAP) and Social Aspiration for Participatory Reform by Evolved Manpower (SAPREM) work specifically for Women and Community Empowerment (WCE). Their aim is to enable women and men to demand high quality reproductive health services, through a supportive environment in the community and health system. Their strategy involves mobilising women’s groups in 10 slum areas of KDMC to familiarise them with reproductive health and gender issues. Each NGO has been allotted 5 slums to work in. The following activities have been undertaken: (i) 25 women’s groups have been formed with 10 to 12 women in each group (ii) A 3-day orientation of women’s group representatives was undertaken in 2003 (iii) Reorientation of group members is conducted every month (iv) A co-ordinating committee was formed, meetings held at three locations (v) A community mobilisation team was formed, meetings held at two locations The women’s group members carry out events and conduct campaigns to tie in with flag days such as Safe Motherhood Day and World Population Day. Performance is found to be one of the most effective ways of disseminating information to slum populations. In the month of June 2004 alone, 107 street plays were performed in the KDMC area. 22 organised by REAP, 40 by SAPREM. The street plays are also concerned with encouraging safe motherhood interventions, raising awareness in the community regarding the referral of high risk mothers, and on breaking the taboo surrounding RTI and STIs and HIV/AIDS. This ‘culture of silence’ presents a major obstacle in the treatment of women for infection. Results: In 2004, 72 women’s groups representatives participated in quarterly orientation. Of these: (i) 25 women attended a three-day orientation session (ii) 250 women attended seven one-day orientation sessions (iii) 25 groups attended a refresher training session In addition, awareness drives have been conducted covering the following issues: (i) HIV/AIDS (ii) Formation of self help groups (iii) Education about government schemes and health programmes (iv) High risk mothers (v) Good nutrition (vi) Breast feeding (vii) Sanitation and personal hygiene

Cost INR 755, 072.
Place Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation, Maharashtra
Time Frame Five years for the NGO to take the role of project partnership with the donor agency. The NGO initially leads the process then subsequently it withdraws and plays the role of facilitator, encouraging the initiatives from a less prominent position. Baseline survey in 2000. Three years for first phase of project, four years for second.

Empowerment: As a tool for women’s societal development. Women’s position in the home and in the community is strengthened by knowledge and promotion of their reproductive rights Increase in demand generation for better services: Education, health and social Multi-purpose: Project links social activism with the need for medical care Sustainable: Once women’s groups are formed, they require little funding to sustain them. Trained representatives can pass on information to large numbers of women. Community involvement: Through street plays and performances, all sections of community can participate or be entertained and informed


Dependent on community participation: The project is owned and driven by the community. The implementing agency must ensure participation, the wrong approach may fail to gain people’s confidence and result in a lack of response Dependent on existence of groups: If the women’s self-help groups are dismantled or become dormant the project could die. The NGO’s role is to keep them active and alive. Requires constant networking between components: Missing any one of them will hamper the effectiveness of the project.


Donor Agency, willing NGOs.

Who needs to be consulted

Local community, IPD Society, Local Government body



Since the project is owned and driven by the women themselves it can be sustained after the withdrawal of the NGO and donor partner. The NGO can continue to ensure sustainabililty by quarterly visits and by providing support at community level for organising events.

Chances of Replication

SAPREM are planning to replicate the project in five other blocks of Thane district not presently covered by the UNFPA.


There have been success stories from this programme where women as individuals or in groups have come forward and set examples for others to follow. These include: (i) Collective action for provision of electricity (ii) Fight against contaminated water supply (iii) Construction of individual toilets (iv) Increased awareness of health and social issues


Submitted By

Tessa Laughton, Research Consultant, ECTA, New Delhi. February 2005

Status Active
Reference Files
Women - Community Empowerment project plans & budget.xls Work Plan IPD-UMC Project on Women and Community Empowerment
Women - Community Empowerment project proposal.doc Project proposal on women and community empowerment
Women gathered for presentation, Maharashtra.jpg Women gathered for presentation, Maharashtra
womens empowerment presentation, Maharashtra.jpg womens empowerment presentation, Maharashtra
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