From its early focus on opposing coercive family planning policies the multi-pronged campaign for better health conditions and facilities for women has moved on to encompass other areas such as reproductive rights, the banning of invasive contraceptives, women's access to health facilities and health care, the privatization of health services, HIV/AIDS and many others. The pressure brought about by women activists led to a change in the government's approach and after India's participation in the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, there was a major shift from the target driven family planning approaches to a more holistic approach addressing women's health and reproductive rights. Invasive contraceptives like Net-en, Norplant, Depo-provera, and the use of quinacrine as a means of sterilization, also came under attack.
The crucial link between poverty and health is also one that has been emphasized by women's groups. Traditionally the last to eat, women also bear a heavy burden of work. And yet, social mores see to it that women pay the least attention to their own bodies and their health, and this is exacerbated by the fact that health services are few and far between. The availability of health services thus has been a key thrust of the campaign.
Even where diseases such as leprosy and HIV/AIDS are concerned, women who suffer from these are often socially ostracized and targeted, and this leads to destitution and further poverty. The linking of the spread of HIV/AIDS with prostitution and sex work is something that has been resisted by women's groups who have also set up many support networks for positive people. Within the women's health movement, another area of interest is the continuing debate on different health systems, and what they mean for women.
|© Zubaan Books | A Dhyan Design Website|