August 26, 2014: Sadaf Parveen from the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, could not believe her good fortune when legendary actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan embraced her on stage during a recent public event in Delhi to convey his appreciation for her work on polio immunisation. A community mobilisation coordinator, Parveen, 27, was handpicked from an army of 8,000 frontline workers for her exceptional efforts to ensure polio immunisation.
Though Bachchan is the more celebrated face of the Pulse Polio Immunisation programme, it is women health workers like Parveen who have overcome barriers of illiteracy, religion and extreme weather to convince mothers to get their children ‘do boond zindagi ki’ (two drops of life), which have enabled India achieve polio free status.
As a health worker with the Social Mobilisation Network, Parveen’s routine for the last seven years has revolved around going door-to-door in Malitola, 200 kilometres from the state capital, Lucknow, educating expectant women and new mothers about the benefits of routine immunisation during the bi-monthly immunisation rounds. Photo: WFS
August 22, 2014: The rape of a six-year-old girl at an upscale school in Bengaluru has refocused everyone’s attention on the issue of child sexual abuse in the country. Ever since this chilling news has hit the headlines, parents across India have been forced to face the reality that their child too could be at risk.
Despite the fact that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data has shown a rise of 45 per cent in cases of alleged child rape – 12,363 cases were reported in 2013 as compared to 8,541 in 2012 – many families either remain ignorant or are resigned to the threats their children are exposed to, especially in school. Photo: WFS
August 19, 2014: According to the Human Development Report-2014, globally, young adults are extremely vulnerable to marginalisation. In fact, factors like economic insecurity, technological change, political uprisings, conflict and climate change are not just limiting their choices but have the potential to reduce their enthusiasm and spirit of entrepreneurship into frustration and despair.
This excerpt from the report, titled Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, gives a clear understanding of the social and economic challenges facing young people of today.
Young people around the world are especially vulnerable to marginalization in the labour market because they lack work experience, social networks, job search abilities and the financial resources to find employment. Photo: WFS
August 14, 2014: Even as India gears to celebrate its 68th Independence Day, women in the country are stepping out of their homes for seeking ‘freedom’ from the scourge of open-defecation.
Kabita Nayak (first from left) feels that while earlier it was difficult to convince people to allocate money to build a toilet at home, attitudes are rapidly changing as young women gain an education and realise the benefits of sanitation.
Kabita has been working towards making her village Sagada in Puri district of Odisha free of open defecation because she has "felt the shame of having to go out to relieve myself in the open fields".
Every week, there is a meeting held in the 'kothaghara' (hall) in Sagada village where all the women, including Kabita Nayak (first from left) sit together to talk about health issues. Photo: Rakhi Ghosh\WFS
August 1, 2014: A group of organizations including the Alliance against Conflict of Interest (AACI), India Resource Centre and BPNI/IBFAN Asia have shown their deep concern about the growing influence of big food companies in the food systems of India.
“Over the years, we have contested the attempts by the private sector to infiltrate public feeding programs like the Mid Day Meals and ICDS by advocating for ready to eat packaged foods as substitutes to freshly cooked meals and local foods,” the group said.
The groups said that India is facing increasing prevalence of obesity and non- communicable disease which are caused mainly by unhealthy dietary patterns influenced by the intense marketing by big food corporations. According to WHO and leading science journals like Lancet, risks of sugary drinks and junk foods on health are high on obesity, diabetes and even deaths.