The Taklung Experience – Why Women?
Part One – Why Women?
From September 22 to September 24, 2012, three doctors from the Nidan team went to a rural village in Gorkha called Taklung to co-run a training of trainers program on raising awareness on sexual and reproductive health. Sustainability and the propagation of the information we shared in the village was of greatest concern when we first held meetings with our partner ADWAN about the program. Planning required the understanding of the kind of communities this village is made of. We learned that the villagers are deeply traditional people and their very way of living is steeped in religious and cultural beliefs. They look towards any figure of authority with mistrust. They have their own set of rights and wrongs when it comes to reproductive health and maternal health that are based on centuries of teachings, largely from religious Hindu scriptures and books. Our target population for this program was women of these communities.
When we first talked to ADWAN and the two women from Taklung, they told us that the only people the women will listen to are the Female Community Health Volunteers and other elder women (not men). The participants were chosen with this in mind. They were the women with most influence in their respective communities. We trained them. And they would go back and train other women. To reinforce this, we repeatedly asked them throughout the sessions if they would be able to go to their communities and hold similar learning sessions with the women there. All of them agreed that they could. We also distributed flip charts and posters that would facilitate their work.
There have been training programs in the past but the women would not take anything back as they would feel like the trainers were just saying things for the sake of saying them.
These women listened to us because we talked in the ways they could relate to. They told us themselves that school teachers and people working at the sub health post do not talk to them properly. There have been training programs in the past but the women would not take anything back as they would feel like the trainers were just saying things for the sake of saying them. However, the women felt special when actual doctors came all the way from the capital to talk to them, that too in a relatable way. They thought that our messages were important. Nonetheless, it is not enough for us to just go to them once. They need refresher lessons and the belief that we are with them for the long run. The next training will be conducted by other members of Nidan. We are trying to recruit quite a few.
So, in effect, we held a training of trainers program. However, the trainers we trained were not politically inclined leaders or school teachers. They were actual women who were known to be and recognized as the leaders and influential members of their own communities. We hope that this will be a more sustainable and effective approach. But, we will only know when we take feedback from them in six months’ time. ADWAN works extensively for women empowerment in Taklung as their founding member and the person who runs the organization in her absence are both from there. We are hoping that their presence will also ensure sustainability of this program.