To address the increasing vulnerability of women to HIV and related issues, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) invited UNIFEM to undertake a policy review in 2005 of the schemes and programmes of MWCD, to develop a training package for women for their empowerment.
Founded by the coalition of the Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNIFEM, and launched in February 2001, Swayamsiddha is an integrated scheme, with a long-term objective of the holistic empowerment of women through a sustained process of mobilization and convergence of all the ongoing sectoral programmes by improving access of women to micro-credit, economic resources and other means.
The training package of the programme comprised of a trainer’s handbook for the master-trainers and a self-learning booklet and communication aids for SHG groups. The training modules in English, Hindi and Marathi, on Gender and HIV address the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS in the context of women’s health, her work and social relationships.
In keeping with the Government’s efforts to empower women through effective legislation and by formulation of several schemes to endow them with the much-needed social and economic empowerment this manual worked as a tool for training of self-help groups especially the Swayamsiddha functionaries.
The accompanying booklet of the self-help groups contained communication aids to provide basic information on HIV/AIDS through snakes and ladders games, scripts for role-plays, and information sheets on spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS into the existing responses of various development processes and government/non-government responses had emerged as the key strategy to address the direct and indirect causes and impact of the epidemic. The silence surrounding the issues of sexuality, the realities of gender equality, and the lack of education about sexual and reproductive health were putting girls and women at risk.
This centrally sponsored programme was implemented in 650 blocks of India. As a result 67971 women’s self help groups had been formed benefiting 9,89,485 beneficiaries throughout India.
The modules had been widely shared amongst a wide variety of practitioners, trainers and stakeholders across different agencies and groups in different parts of India to reach greater numbers of men and women to attain sustainability in the future years.
This manual came about as a result of UNIFEM wanting to develop a Manual for master trainers, which could be used throughout the country by Self-help groups formed under the Swayamsiddha scheme.
New Concept with inputs from Human Development, Resource Network (HDRN), New Delhi, designed the manual and also created and compiled the content. New Concept created illustrations that the target audience in the SHGs could relate to the modules of the programme. Keeping in mind that the content needed to be crisp and easily understandable, New Concept compiled the text explaining each section and inserting helpful tips.