June 21, 2012

NAMHHR study on Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) scheme

NAMHHR partners initiated a study on the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) piloted by the Central Government in selected districts of West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The scheme aims at providing maternity benefits to women in the unorganized sector. The amount of Rs.4000 promised by the IGMSY is available only to those pregnant women who are over 18 years of age and those who have experienced less than two live births. The disbursal of installments is conditional to registration of the pregnancy at the health centre, immunization of the mother and child, exclusive breastfeeding and growth monitoring of children.

The NAMHHR study focused on those women who stand excluded due to the eligibility criteria  of this scheme. The study explored their increased vulnerabilities in terms of loss of work, health, incomes access to food and rest in the course of maternity. The interviews with selected women from the districts of Bankura (West Bengal), Bargarh (Odisha), Purbi Singhbhum (Jharkhand) and Mahoba (Uttar Pradesh) threw light on how the vulnerabilities imposed by poverty and uncertain livelihoods both worsen and are worsened by the experience of maternity for these women. The conditions of exclusion are unfair especially given that choices pertaining to bearing children and birth control are shaped by the collective experience of child survival and access to health services in these parts.  The study reveals how maternity is embedded within the vicious cycles of poverty, ill health and impoverishment that the women and their families survive in. It underlines the importance of state support in breaking this cycle through benefits, public health care and services ensuring food and nutrition security for the women and their families.

Stories of Excluded women on Motherhood

This is a series of semi-fictionalized accounts of the lives of the women we had interviewed and interacted with in the course of the study of non-beneficiaries of the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahayog Yojana (IGMSY) in the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand. The IGMSY is a conditional cash transfer scheme that is being piloted by the Central Government in selected districts of the country. The scheme offers maternity benefits to all women, expect those women (or their husbands) employed in the government and the organized sector. However the scheme has certain eligibility criteria. One can be potential beneficiary only if one has less than two children and is over 18 years of age. Thus a large number of very vulnerable working class women are left out of its ambit.

These stories offer a glimpse of the everyday lives of a few women in different parts of these four states.

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