Empowered Slum Women's-Groups Negotiate Collectively Towards Responsive Urban Governance, Improved Access to Entitlements

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Kuntal AGARWAL, Urban Health Resource Centre, India
Kabir AGARWAL, Dept. of Economics, University of Mumbai, India
Shabnam VERMA, Urban Health Resource Centre, Indore, India, India
Introduction: Urban-poor/slum populations represent an insecure population, socially excluded from benefits of urbanization. Women suffer more owing to lower social status, low control over household finances, decision making. Communities live without Government Picture IDs, address proof, water supply, paved streets, electricity connections, low access to healthcare.

Methodology:  Urban Health Resource Centre (UHRC) works with slum communities in Agra, Indore (India) to form, nurture, motivate women's groups, strengthen social cohesion, build negotiation capacity among slum communities to increase access to rightful services and make civic authorities more responsive to needs and demand of deprived urban communities.

UHRC advocates with policy makers, influencers to bring attention to needs of urban vulnerable, and with civic authorities to influence action.  Platforms are created where service providers and demand side come together to enhance mutual understanding and address challenges. UHRC's social facilitators help communities develop negotiation skills through writing collective community-petitions, reminders to service providers, learn about importance of paper-trail of to ensure responsiveness, good governance. Women's groups gain knowledge about schemes and entitlements.

Findings: In Indore-Agra, during April 2013-March 2014 negotiation power thus cultivated in  women-groups led to 8422 persons to obtaining Government address-proof and picture-ID, 5600 women availing deliveries in government, private-affordable hospitals, 3350 of these availing government’s Maternity-Benefit scheme and 4656 children availing immunization. Through community petitions/reminders submitted by women’s groups perseveringly 37000 persons benefitted from piped water supply, 8000 population benefitted through metered electric connections, lanes in 23 slums were paved benefiting 60,000 slum population, 120,000 population benefitted from regular cleaning of drains.

Significance: Lessons from Indore and Agra, have resulted in India’s National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) mandating Women’s Health Groups (Mahila Arogya Samiti) as the demand side intervention. The approach of slum women’s group led negotiation for services, entitlements is adaptable across growing cities of developing countries.