Keywords: Sundarban, women, conference, gender discrimination, healthcare, quack
doctors, women empowerment, equity.
Unconference for Solutions was looking at different ways by which women from different Islands of Sundarbans could be
empowered to make strong contributions
towards the Raging Issues in the field of
Primary Healthcare by providing solutions.
This two day event at Tora Eco Resort, Bali II Island, Sundarbans was held
from 23rd-25th February 2023. Track I: Women as agents of change was
moderated by Dr. Tirumala S. Mandal (AVP Research &
Communications; iKure Techsoft Pvt.Ltd) and other eminent panelists
included Ms. Pompy Sridhar (Director & Country HeadIndia at MSD for
Mothers), Dr. Debashis Bhattacharya (Mentor And Advisor iKure
Techsoft Pvt.Ltd), Ms. Paramita Banerjee (Ashoka Fellow Child Rights
Activist Founding Member of Diksha), Ms. Pritha Chakraborty
(Filmmaker & Founder of Recanteur Media).
Environmental challenges in the Sundarbans have impacted
socio-economically and environmentally, making the society in this
vulnerable community highly disorganized. Needless to state that
gender discrimination is common among these vulnerable
communities. A patrilineal and patriarchal culture is shaping the lives of
women living here. Women in Sundarbans face a host of challenges like
hard physical labour, limited or no income and wealth, power. They are
underrepresented in decision and policy making. They experience poor
social status, violence and intimidation. Extreme poverty, poor
sanitation and housing, lack of potable water, limited access to health
care adds on to their misery. Their educational status and literacy rate is
The healthcare gap worldwide impacts the indigent population, the
women and girls are the ones who bear the brunt of inequalities.
Sundarban region of India is a living example of this looming adversity.
According to a 2016 study, the impoverished in the Sundarbans lack
choices in healthcare. The publicly funded facilities are non-functional or
non-existent and the available functional facilities are mostly physically
inaccessible. This gap is often filled by quack doctors that might
increase the disease burden in this region. It was observed in a study in
2010, among the people living in Sundarbans aged between 15-59,
women disproportionately have a higher burden of disease in
comparison to men. Climate variability thwacks women more than
men in this vulnerable community.
In the looming crisis of climate changes and calamities, women are the
key agents and active responders in early adaptation and mitigation
for healthcare equity, access and climate crisis. Thus, women prove
themselves as entrepreneurs even in hostile environments, with their
dogged determination and resilience. Women as an agent of change
can bring transformative change at a grassroot level. It provides a
platform for them to voice their opinion and showcase their potential
as well. Financial empowerment of women would ensure an
environment of survival with justice and equity.
As aptly quoted by Mahatma Gandhi, “It is health that is real wealth
and not pieces of gold and silver,” let us join hands to shape a better
tomorrow for this vulnerable community. High self-assurance, social
recognition, changed roles are a significant indicator of women
empowerment that would aid in implementation of women as a
transformative change agent in primary healthcare. Women
constitute half of the population, but stories about women, for women,
and by the women are far and scarce.
iKure at the two day event, ‘Unconference for Solutions’ received
ideas and innovations on women as change agents that included
mobilizing microfinancing schemes to women’s rights for sexual
reproductive health and empowering women to demand quality care,
and understand what quality care is, in a way that can shape the
overall health systems.
iKure is open to any assistance via collaborative ecosystems,
integration of local actions to implement potential solutions that can
bring a transformative, inclusive, and disruptive approach involving
women as agents of change in the last-mile communities.