Sampada Gramin Mahila Sanstha


People should believe that they can change things. It is not about a few activists fighting for other people’s rights. Anybody who has imbibed this understanding should be able to go and fight for their rights.

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HIV/AIDS remains yet another arena where traditional gender struggles continue to be played out at all structural levels- in the family, in the community, and in society at large.

Combating Gender based Violence & HIV.

One of the major lessons learnt by SANGRAM’s intervention is that the HIV epidemic is being fueled by society’s inequalities. While poverty, caste, class and sexual minority have a great impact on the spread of HIV gender places the burden of the epidemic on women. The risk of getting HIV is a gendered risk, one that strongly depends on the actions and behaviors of individual men and women playing out gender roles that society has constructed for them. If women face a disproportionately high risk due to their social status, women also face a greater share of the HIV burden. All, women-single, married, pregnant, widowed or in prostitution-face the whiplash of gender when it comes to HIV. The discrimination and stigma they face is much more than that faced by their men folk. The burden of care also falls squarely on their shoulders. In fact, HIV/AIDS remains yet another arena where traditional gender struggles continue to be played out at all structural levels- in the family, in the community, and in society at large .

Women are beset by inequalities on all sides-social, economic, cultural and familial. Although, several social struggles have resulted in the creation of some rights and space for women, the onset of HIV/AIDS is now triggering off a fresh wave of oppression against women. The spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic is inextricably linked to sexuality, in its many dimensions, i.e., sexuality and reproduction, sexuality and man - woman relation, sexuality and the oppression of women. Given that the sexual arena is one in which women have been conditioned to passivity, the epidemic threatens to sweep away several of their basic and hard won rights.

AIDS seems to directly negate a woman's place in society as well as her rights. There is an increasing trend in rural areas of using HIV/AIDS as an excuse to deny women their right to property, to their children, to information, to work, to access medical treatment, to alimony. The list will continue to add up if an immediate and prompt reassessment of the needs of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS is not prioritized by both society and the state.

VAMP taught SANGRAM that :

  • Rural clients are the most reluctant users of condoms.
  • Men/boys from the unorganized sector form large part of the client group in the municipal council areas.
  • Rural women who come to the weekly bazaar have been accessed in private homes that double up as brothels.
  • There is an alarming rise in HIV infection among pregnant mothers.
  • Even remote areas from the district have cases of HIV/AIDS.
  • Gender inequality: Fueling the HIV epidemic.

Thus in 1997 building on its work with the VAMP collective, SANGRAM started an intervention program with young adults and rural women in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and care at the district level. The project is spread over 713 villages of Sangli district, which consists of ten tehsils. There are ten HIV/AIDS information centers in the tehsils, which are run by trained Social Workers, there are 15 youth organizers and 63 women organizers who run this programe.

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