Connecting local responses around the world
United Nations’ Gender Development Index confirms that countries with a high level of gender equality have higher immunisation coverage. In India, socially constructed roles and behaviors are attributed to men and women. Too often, the burden of child health falls solely on the shoulders of mother. According a GAVI study, making women the primary target of information campaigns merely perpetuates the idea that taking children to be vaccinated is a woman’s job – even if she doesn’t have the power or means to do so
A semi-urban village, Hiragata, Kamrup district, Assam seems to be taking on this organically. After Constellation's SALT process, health of children and immunisation became community dream and not NGO project. Villagers realised that unless fathers and grandparents also take responsibility the child might not complete the schedule of immunization. Self assessment of where they were in terms of their dream led to action planning by the community for better health of the children in the village.
Therefore, one key achievement of the community has been almost 100% immunization coverage in the village."Few years ago I had to coax the parents to get their children to be vaccinated and very few turned up." notes the ANM. One factor for improved coverage has been enhanced male participation in immunisation.
Both health workers as well as the community members corroborated that men are now involved in vaccination of their children. Now, Fathers have realised the importance of immunisation and do not want the baby to miss any dose.
Effects of this seems to have gone far beyond in the village. How has the dialogue changed between the wife and the husband at home, asked Laura Simms during the visit to this village. A young woman got up. She said that few months ago her husband had began to share the responsibility of taking their child for immunization. She has been ill for past one month and her husband has been doing the household chores. She added that this had never happened before.
Two takeaways- to challenge social or gender inequities one has to bring self realisation in the people and secondly taking on a approach which addresses the context as these roles are embedded in a social system,