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SAMYAK's initiatives are focused on piloting innovative ideas and new strategies to address issues of gender, masculinities, health and development with potential for scaling up and wider impact.


Women's Health Rights Forum for Urban Poor in Maharashtra

Situation of urban health, especially that of child health and urban poor women's health is very grave. Engagement of government and non-government organisations is very limited on the issues of urban health. Urban health issues, often knowingly or unknowingly, remained in a state of neglect or secondary even in health campaigns and movements. Existing groups and health campaigns did raise urban health issues in Pune (and partially in Mumbai) in the context of privatisation of health care facilities but could not really come up with collective and comprehensive charter of demands regarding urban health policies and programmes, structure/s and programmatic needs of urban poor.
SAMYAK is engaged in a process of organising various groups across the state of Maharashtra from various cities (Primarily in Pune, Solapur, Nagpur and Nasik) and smaller towns (with municipal councils of type A, B, C) like Kurduwadi, Barshi, Osmanabad, Latur, Parbhani, Washim, etc on the issues of urban health. We could identify various community based groups (non-NGOs) like youth clubs, women's SHGs, Zopadpatti (urban slums) groups, political groups and also smaller NGOs conducting various health related activities in their domains of operations. These activities generally include blood donations camps, eye check up camps or general heath check up camps etc. Their direct outreach to people is very high and they are very efficient in lobbying with political groups and private health care practitioners. These groups need not necessarily have broader understanding of health and health rights. We are mobilising these social and political groups and smaller NGOs in urban towns in Maharashtra to raise awareness about health and health rights, especially of children and women in urban poor population, and to build an effective campaign with direct involvement of people to demand health rights of urban poor and to ‘politicise’ the issues of urban health in true sense through people centred advocacy initiatives.
A ground work has been done with many groups across the state and we are planning to consolidate the process towards building a people-centred and people facilitated public campaign demanding health rights of urban poor from local civic bodies and the Government

Workshops with Married Couples Living with HIV/AIDS on Gender and VAW

Gender mainstreaming has become a key word in the field of operations on the issues of HIV/AIDS. Gender sensitisation workshops of various levels of functionaries in the field of HIV/AIDS, compilation of sex segregated data and analysis of data from gender perspective to gauge vulnerability of women to the infection have been some of the ways of gender mainstreaming. Violence against women has been talked about in the field of HIV/AIDS as part of these efforts but a very little empirical work is available to substantiate varied facets of violence against women living with HIV/AIDS in different socio-economic-cultural backgrounds.
Evidences across the world, especially studies in Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, US, shows that HIV infected women reported physical harm since being diagnosed HIV positive. India studies show increased vulnerability of women to infection of HIV if they are living in abusive relations. The risk for HIV infection among married women who experienced both physical and sexual violence from their husbands was increased by a magnitude of 3.9 over the infection risk for women who were not abused.

Workshops: In this scenario SAMYAK has initiated a workshop series with couples living with HIV/AIDS to address issues of gender-based violence faced by women and its impact on both men and women. These workshops explored understanding of PLWHA about the concept of positive living and how do they see issues of gender-based discrimination and violence against women living with HIV/AIDS. Given the limited information and analysis in the local context on the links between HIV and gender-based violence we focused on following questions:
  • What is the concept and understanding of participants about positive living? Does this concept extend to life free of gender-based discrimination and violence?
  • How do men and women living with HIV/AIDS understand and define the concept of violence in their lives?
  • How does being HIV positive or disclosing a positive status affect women’s experiences of sexual and other forms of violence? What responses do they make and what opportunities do they have for addressing this violence?

    Women for Equality (Samate Sathi Aapan Purush)

    SAMYAK has been part of initiating a group, “WeMen for Equality”, of individuals and organisations engaging men for gender equality. The group is active in Pune city and organises various programmes to reach out to men in society through its cultural initiatives and dialogue.
    On August 2, 2009 we organised a cultural programme in Pune to discuss about various aspects of friendship including relationship of men with each other and men’s friendship with other men and women. Renowned film director Sunil Sukhtankar was interviewed on this occasion. Clippings from the films directed by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar were screened and discussed from the perspective of men, masculinities and gender equality in friendship and relationships between men and women. The programme was attended by more than 120 persons. The group also designs various cultural programmes to appeal men to join women’s struggle for equality and rights