Social Security and Health
Health and social security services often due not meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Due to information, service, and resource gaps, low-income and marginalized populations in India often do not receive equal access to social security, welfare, and health services. SEWA ensures social security and health services are delivered equally and fairly to women in the informal sector.
SEWA’s social security and health programs rely on information dissemination, awareness generation, and service delivery mechanisms.
Social Security Delivery
Welfare schemes and social security programs are intended to support and protect families who are unable to meet basic material and financial standards. However, due to systemic issues, such as illiteracy, unawareness, immobility, corruption, and cost, many of these services do not reach the intended recipients. SEWA ensures these services reach women and their families who need it the most through two strategies: awareness generation and service delivery. SEWA works directly in the communities to provide information, assistance, and resources to make sure social security and welfare programs reach and benefit low-income, marginalized communities.
SEWA Shakti Kendra (Empowerment Centers) (SSK)
In 2007, SEWA Delhi was appointed as the manager of a Delhi government initiative called the ‘Gender Resource Center’ in Sundernagari, a resettlement colony in northeast Delhi. The GRC project aims to bring social, economy and legal empowerment to women particularly those belonging to the underprivileged section of society. Adapting the GRC model, SEWA now runs its own empowerment centers called SEWA Shakti Kendra (Empowerment Centers) across 7 areas of Delhi, and across all SEWA Bharat-supported districts.
The SSKs are at the center of SEWA’s presence and work in communities. They provide resources, support, and information for women to access for economic and social development. The SSK provides members with linkages to legal solutions and to other SEWA programs, such as microfinance, health, employment, and skill development opportunities.
The SSK is also critical as a mechanism for last mile delivery of social security and welfare schemes. The SSK assists women with completing and submitting forms for social security and welfare schemes. Staffed by a woman from the local community, these centers provide assurance and support to help women navigate the application process and receive public welfare benefits.
Information of available public welfare schemes and programs do not often reach marginalized communities. Due to low literacy rates, limited access to online resources, and immobility, women do not often receive information of the availability or awareness of schemes and programs. SEWA reaches out to communities to lead informational sessions on resources women and their families have access to. Women are then able to use this information to take action by visiting the SEWA Shakti Kendras.
Low-income communities suffer from poor health conditions due to limited preventative and treatment care. Due to poor health, these families are more likely to spend more of their earnings treating and addressing health emergencies. Unfortunately low income families, who are at more risk of suffering from health conditions, do not have equal access to health services. The Indian healthcare system is overcrowded, under-resourced, and does not have the supply of specialists and trained professionals to meet demand. Additionally, for poor and rural communities, health facilities and resources are often too far, too difficult, or too expensive.
In order to overcome informational, resource, and access gaps, the National Health Mission (NHM), launched a program called the Mahila Arogya Samiti (MAS) to provide linkages to public health resources, provide information around government health schemes, and train members of the community on preventative, local public health issues. All MAS participants are women from the community who become leaders and are responsible for connecting their communities to efficient and effective health solutions.
SEWA in Punjab became a partner with NHM Punjab in 2016, leading the training of 349 women in 11 districts of Punjab. SEWA trained women on leadership, community based monitoring, and public health linkages, improving the health of communities and the leadership capacity of its members.
You can learn more about SEWA in Punjab’s work here.
SEWA overcomes these healthcare and service gap through two complementary approaches, offering preventative and treatment care.
Many conditions that cause health problems can be prevented, mitigated, or treated before they become critical. Since women and communities often suffer from low levels of education and a reliance on informal, superstitious treatment, preventable conditions often become dangerous and serious.
SEWA leads interactive health sessions in communities that identify chronic and reoccurring health conditions. SEWA provides information on how to treat and prevent conditions, such as malnutrition, pre and post-natal care, family planning, menstrual hygiene, and water sanitation. SEWA also helps women be able to identify symptoms of illness early and provides them with information on how to access care, providing linkages to hospitals, health centers, and other services.
SEWA also uses health sessions as a mechanism to identify and address issues that are prevalent in communities that can be addressed by creating policy and assistance from municipal and regional governments.
SEWA Bharat’s local teams in Bihar have initiated 26 Village Health and Sanitation Committees (VHSC) – 10 in Munger, 6 in Katihar, and 10 in Bhagalpur. VHSCs are responsible or Panchayat-level healthcare under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). SEWA Bharat leaders have made landmark achievements in community healthcare by activating local health sub-centers under the VHSCs.
In many rural and low-income areas, effective and formal health institutions are often under-resourced and inaccessible. Women in the informal sector also suffer from risk such as backpain, arthritis, and poor eysight, from working in strenuous, poor, and dangerous working conditions as laborers, weavers, embroiderers, domestic workers, and construction workers.
SEWA brings healthcare services directly to communities through health camps. SEWA operates and coordinates health camps, providing free diagnostic services and treatment on conditions, such as tuberculosis, spinal conditions, poor eyesight, and gynecological issues that are conducted by medical professionals. Additionally, SEWA ensures direct referrals to hospitals and health centers that cannot be treated at the health camp directly. SEWA’s health camps fall under three main, broad categories:
- General Health: Communicable diseases/illnesses, disability
- Occupational Health: Eyesight, backpain, arthritiscamps such as eye camps for home-based workers
- Women’s Health: Gynecological care, sexual health and reproductive rights
Learn more about SEWA’s Social Security and Health Programs here.
SEWA Bharat is constantly looking for new, innovative project opportunities. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to partner with us.