Parmaben Sava – India

Linked with Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan KMVS.

She is She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “I am getting old but I shall continue to provide my services to all who ask for them, as long as my health permits. I am happy and satisfied, but I am concerned about others around me”.

Without formal education and facing great odds, Parmaben has succeeded in her mission to bring healthcare to Kutchi women … HER earlobes hang almost touching her neck. Thick, white bangles cover her forearms; her richly woven kanjaria and audni speak of her desert-home. She has never had any formal education, and has only recently learned to write her name. (full text).

Parmaben Sava - India rogné redim 70p.jpg

Parmaben Sava – India

She works for Pachcham (or Kutch) Mahila Vikas Sangathan PMVS (KMVS).

Parmaben Sava is a traditional birth attendant, a midwife who became a leader within her community by educating women on reproductive health issues and rights. A Dalit by birth, she has concentrated her energies and efforts in the Kutch area around the Indian border with Pakistan, changing the lives of the women she has interacted with, and of the generations she has helped bring into the world.

Parmaben was born in Juna (in the Pachcham block), one of five children. Her childhood was very similar to those around her: no education in anything but housework, and marriage at the age of 16. In fact, it was only after she started working with the Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS) in the late 1980s that she learnt to sign her name.

By that time, though, Parmaben had given birth to four daughters (moving to Dhrobana after marrying), and realized the difficulties a pregnant woman faces, and the pathetic birthing situations.

While there were traditional birth attendants in the villages, the services were insufficient; and that motivated her to help other women in giving birth. She learnt from experience, gradually attending the training programs that the KMVS team had started organizing in the area. That set her on the path to revolutionizing women’s health during pregnancy and childbirth.

The 57-year-old mainly lives and works in the villages of Banni Pachcham in Bhuj, and has been doing so since she started working with the KMVS in the late 1980s. Her greatest success lies in introducing conventional and innovative approaches in the area of women’s health in relation to childbirth. And the biggest factor that has led to Parmaben achieving what she has is an inherent willingness to learn and keep abreast of the latest developments in the areas she works in. She has been amazingly successful in a society that is usually reluctant to try out new techniques, especially in childbirth. The Parmaben Effect has often spilled over into villages around the one she works in.

At last count, 2496 women had adopted Parmaben as a role model, inspired by her ability, zeal, and courage. Although she started her work with the KMVS, as the local women’s collective started to attract more numbers and spread in terms of area, it has developed into an autonomous CBO: the Pachcham Mahila Vikas Sangathan (PMVS). She joined the team in 1989/90, and has been part of the PMVS leadership since its inception in 2000. The organization covers both the Banni and the Pachcham region of the Bhuj block of Kutch district.

What worked in Parmaben’s favour, especially when she started out, was a firsthand idea of women’s lives in rural Gujarat and Rajasthan. She knew how women’s roles in such societies was primarily that of doer, one who spent practically all her time working, not taking care of herself or her health.

This, obviously, resulted in complications at time of childbirth. She also knew that a majority of pregnant women were far too ashamed, because of social constructs, to inform doctors about their gynecological problems.

Parmaben didn’t restrict herself only to the region she belonged to. In fact, she has traveled up to 250-odd miles from Bhuj to work, because that’s as far as word about her had spread. Getting calls for help from far-off places is not new to her, and she has, more often than not, attended all calls. Over 1000 deliveries later, Parmaben is still continuing her work. (1000PeaceWomen).

2 links:

PREMIO NOBEL DE LA PAZ (speaks about the 1000 PeaceWomen);

A Proposal for Pachchham Women’s Clinic;

Global Siserhood Network.

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