PRESS RELEASE- Govt removes two child norm from maternal entitlements #Victory #Goodnews


The Coalition Against Two-child Norm and Coercive Population Policies, the National Alliance on Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR), the Right to Food Campaign (RTFC), and the Working Group for Children under six (WGCU6) with the support of  national networks and NGOs , have been advocating for the removal of these conditionalities with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the last three months.

Our submissions, supported by members of the NRHM Mission Steering Group and the Department, have led to a revised GO on theremoval of conditions related to the two-child norm and age from maternity entitlements like JSY and NMBS by the MoHFWw.e.f. 8 May 2013 , check GO on removal of 2CN in JSY

Our next effort collectively should be directed towards the removal of these disqualifying conditions from the IGMSY (Pilot) scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child to ensure that the universal maternity entitlements promised in the NFSB, will be unconditional.

We also hope that this directive from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare  can now be used in your own states, to advocate for removal of this norm from all other schemes. Please let us know if we can work together or help in this.

In solidarity,Jashodhara, Sejal and Abhijit

*This is despite the fact that the poorest women (including Dalits and Adivasis) who most need these schemes as social support, are usually the ones who have more than two children. These women also have high unmet need for contraception. These women are constrained by the fact that child survival is lowest among them (four times more babies die among the poorest families as compared to the richest) and they desperately need children since the state does not provide adequate social support in old age.

  •   Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies
  • CommonHealth – Coalition for Maternal Neonatal Health and Safe Abortion
  •  Healthwatch Forum, Bihar
  • Healthwatch Forum, Uttar Pradesh
  • India Alliance for Child Rights (IACR)
  • Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA)
  • National Alliance on Maternal Health and Human Rights
  • Right to Food Campaign
  • Working Group for Children Under 6 (Right to Food Campaign)
  • Download GO on removal of 2CN in JSY

 

PRESS RELEASE-Why are civil society groups against the two-child norm? #Vaw #Womenrights


“Two-child norm is gender-insensitive, disempowering for marginalised women in society and poses a serious risk to their lives”.

Though India’s population growth rate is now the lowest it has been in the last fifty years, India’s population stabilization efforts continue to centre around family planning, with a focus on fertility reduction.

The rush to control population by cutting benefits to the women who have more than two children and penalising them is for many an unconstitutional approach of the government. Recently, Naveen Jindal recommended the parliamentary standing committee to consider limiting nutritional support to children under government schemes to only the first two children to “encourage stabilization of population”!

In a country where we continue to have large numbers of people — women, Dalits, adivasis, the poor, CSOs strongly recommend that maternity benefits and nutritional support schemes should be made unconditional. There should be no restrictions in access to these public support programmes with regard to age or parity. The government should ensure minimum support facilities at work (including crèches, wage compensation, nursing breaks and adequate maternity leave for exclusive breast feeding) for poor women in the country.

Mr. AR. Nanda, former Secretary, Family Welfare, and Registrar General, Government of India, chief architect of the National Population Policy 2000 and Chairperson of the National Coalition Against TCN and Coercive Population Policies, debunked the need for coercive measures to promote population stabilization. He argues that steps to link entitlements to population control or family size need to stop and emphasis should be laid on providing women with adequate nutritional supplements, extended to women who need it the most, i.e. women from socially and economically weaker backgrounds.

Ms. Jashodhara Dasgupta from National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR) stated that according to National Family Health Survey 3 (2005-6), nearly 60% of the most vulnerable women of the age group of 15-49 years have more than two children and will be qualified from maternity benefits; these include scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, poorest wealth quintile and women with no education. Data also shows that women from these vulnerable groups are highly likely to lose their children; the probability is one in fourteen children will die before their 5th birthday. As such, disqualifying vulnerable women from maternity benefits just because they give birth to more than two children is a cruel denial of their reproductive and economic rights. Maternity benefits and support are most essential for the well being of poor women and for the future generation of our country. There is an urgent need to delink the supplementary nutritional programmes and maternity entitlements from the two-child norm; else the “inclusive agenda” of the government will be defeated.

Dr. Abhijit Das (Convenor of the National Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies, New Delhi) expressed serious concerns that such a disqualification is gender-insensitive, disempowering for marginalised women in society and poses a serious risk to their lives.

#India- Activists decry linking maternity benefits to population control #Vaw #Reproductiverigghts


New Delhi, Jan 26 — Civil society groups have expressed shock at a parliamentary panel’s recommendation to restrict the nutritional support under government schemes to only two children per family and to disqualify mothers of more children from maternity benefits.

 

Debunking the need for coercive measures to promote population stabilisation, A.R. Nanda, former secretary, department of family welfare, said that India’s population growth has already slowed down considerably and the figures from the 2011 Census show that the decadal growth at 17.64 percent is the lowest in the last 50 years.

 

Reviewing the National Food Security Bill, the parliamentary standing committee on food, consumer affairs and public distribution has recommended that maternity benefits under government schemes should be restricted to only the first two children. The steps to link entitlements to population control or family size need to stop and emphasis should be laid on providing women with adequate nutritional supplements which should be extended to women from socially and economically weaker backgrounds, Nanda said on the sidelines of a function here on girl child.

 

Jashodhara Dasgupta from National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR) said that according to National Family Health Survey III, nearly 60 per cent of the most vulnerable women of the age group of 15-49 years have more than two children. “They will be disqualified from maternity benefits; these include the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, the poorest and those with no education,” Dasgupta was quoted as saying in a release. As such, disqualifying vulnerable women from maternity benefits just because they give birth to more than two children is a cruel denial of their reproductive and economic rights, she said. Maternity benefits and support are most essential for the well being of poor women and for the future generation of our country, she said. There is an urgent need to delink the supplementary nutritional programmes and maternity entitlements from the two-child norm, else the “inclusive agenda” of the government will be defeated, she added.

 

The activists strongly recommended that maternity benefits and nutritional support schemes should be made unconditional. There should be no restrictions in access to these public support programmes with regard to age or parity.

 

The government should ensure minimum support facilities at work, including creches, wage compensation, nursing breaks and adequate maternity leave for exclusive breast feeding, for poor women in the country, they said.

 

Abhijit Das, convenor of the National Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies, New Delhi, expressed “serious concerns that such a disqualification would be gender-insensitive”.
The recommendations have also been objected to by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

 

The parliamentary standing committee’s other recommendations, which include diluting the existing commitments of the government to provide nutritional security to children, have also drawn criticism from the civil society as well as the NCPCR.
IANS

 

 

#India- #MaternalHealth Program blasted by #NAMHHR


Indian Maternal Health Program Blasted by Critics

By Swapna Majumdar

WeNews correspondent

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A requirement that participants have no more than two living children excludes numerous women in high-fertility regions in India who could most benefit from the $80 outlay.

Women in India with more than two living children are denied program benefits.
Women in India with more than two living children are denied program benefits.

Credit: Swapna Majumdar

NEW DELHI (WOMENSENEWS): At 28, Leela Devi, who lives in a small village in the impoverished northern state of Uttar Pradesh, seems like an obvious candidate for a new government program to improve the health of pregnant and lactating women.

Devi is weak and finds herself constantly tired. She has given birth seven times. Two of her children died soon after birth. The struggle to feed her surviving children meant that Devi, a daily wage laborer, had to return to work before she had adequately recovered from childbirth and pregnancy.

National health surveys have shown that high levels of under-nutrition and anemia in adolescents and women are exacerbated by early marriage, early childbearing and inadequate spacing between births.

Data show that more than half of women in India (55 percent) are anemic, with 63 percent of lactating women and 59 percent of pregnant women suffering from the condition.

But Devi and a huge portion of other low-income women will not be eligible for a new government health program that provides cash assistance of $80 because they have had too many children.

The Indira Gandhi Maternity Support Scheme is only open to pregnant women who are over 18 years of age and don’t have more than two living children. One 2011 study, however, based on the latest national family health survey, indicated as many as 63 percent of poor women between ages 15 to 49 would be disqualified from the program because they had more than two children.

The benefit requires a pregnant woman to register her pregnancy at a health center, accept immunization of the mother and child and agree to exclusive breastfeeding and growth monitoring of children.

With the scheme being piloted in four states, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha–all high fertility states–health activists contend the government is promoting a coercive two- child policy in the name of population stabilization by offering incentives for only those women who have two children.

Flawed Scheme

The National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights, a group of 17 nongovernmental organizations working on gender and health, conducted a study of the maternal health program and found that designers of the program visualized the eligibility conditions as encouraging a “small family norm.”

The group, which monitored the maternity scheme from an equity and accountability perspective, found that this approach ignored how maternity was embedded within the vicious cycles of poverty, ill health and impoverishment for rural and marginalized women.

Health activists say that by imposing the exclusion criteria that denies this benefit to women with more than two children, the scheme fails to address the fact that women have no control over their bodies and have little or no access to contraception. The women excluded by the eligibility criterion most need the cash benefit because they have such limited access to health and family planning services and have little choice about bearing children and birth control.

The eligibility criterion, in short, defeated its stated purpose of improving pregnant women’s access to income, food and rest, said Kalyani Meena of Prerana Bharti, one of the alliance’s partner nongovernmental organizations that conducted the study in the state of Jharkhand.

All 57 women studied by the national alliance in the four states, during the period of December 2011 to March 2012, had gone through three to seven pregnancies. They all had a high rate of pregnancy failures due to malnutrition and poor availability of health care.

Given the lack of regulations and income insecurities in the informal sector, women in these regions are often forced to go back to work soon after childbirth and can neither practice exclusive breastfeeding nor provide sufficient care since they work under difficult conditions in places without child care services.

Family Size Barriers

In Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India with a population of over 200 million and where Devi lives, the average number of children born to a woman during her reproductive years is 3.6; it’s 3.9 for rural women.

Even if women wanted to limit their family size, the high cost of accessing health care stops many of them. The study found that almost all women who go to health care facilities suffer daily wage losses because of long waiting hours at the public hospital. Those losses are doubled if they are accompanied by their husbands.

Skipping work to rest during pregnancy and post-pregnancy means losing wages for two-to-18 months, which adds up to financial losses of between $16 and $220, according to the study.

Most of the women studied said they had taken loans to cover survival costs and then cut back on food or returned to work early to pay off the loans.

The government’s cash benefit of $80 would obviously be helpful to such women.

The report’s investigators conclude that if India’s high maternal mortality rate (212 deaths for 100,000 live births) is to be lowered, along with high rates of anemia and under-nutrition, then maternity benefits must be unconditional and food and health coverage universal. Hoping their findings would feed into the evaluation of the scheme, the report also recommends that women’s advocates be involved in monitoring and evaluating the program and in engaging community women in social audits to ensure gender concerns are addressed.

Swapna Majumdar is a journalist based in New Delhi and writes on gender, development and politics.

To know about NAMHHR more log on to http://namhhr.blogspot.ca/

 

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