How Sidhamallamma Kanchappa’s Efforts For Women’s Health Has Made Many Women Independent.
2 August 2017
In our country, the issues of the rural area have always been a part of the discussion. Even today the illiteracy rate has not diminished. The number of child marriages has eventually lessened but not completely eliminated from the society.
But one day our country will be free from every shackle because we have people who want to bring in a change. Sidhamallamma Kanchappa is one such woman who is willing to change the scenario and bring in lots of happiness and peace, changing the fate of many.
Sidhamallamma was married to her dead sister’s husband when she was just 11 against her willingness. Soon in a year after marriage when she was 12, she gave birth to her first child at home in 1998. The new born nearly died and the doctors chided Sidhamallamma for getting married at such an early age.
The experience she had, taught her the essentialities of women’s reproductive health and control over bodies. And so she had made it clear to her husband about not having a second child soon after and to her husband’s acceptance, their second child was born eight years later.
And this incidence of her life made her foot strong in women’s health. When this lady of Irula tribe was elected the president of the remote Padiganalam Panchayat in Thally block of Tamil Nadu’s North-Western Krishnagiri district in 2011, she made her foremost priority towards women’s health.
The panchayat is situated among the craters of granite mines where early marriage, frequent pregnancies, anaemia and malnutrition are the health problems that each woman is plagued with.
She wanted to spread awareness on women’s reproductive health. She has been working effectively ever since she was elected and still continues in giving her services and lending a helping hand to whomever in need.
She is one of 40 past and current women panchayat leaders across six Tamil Nadu districts to analyse the impact of a quarter century of reservation for women in local bodies.
Today, it is seen that majority of women now work independently of the men despite the hurdles of male dominated political networks and limited powers. Women have been taking their steps and making a happier household.
The paucity of ASHAs promoted Sidhamallamma to get her trained as a health worker in Padiganalam. Two years through her tenure, ASHA helped her in everything that she needed to know. She was keenly interested in educating women about health issues and she desired to bring in a positive change.
Even though she was illiterate, she made mental notes of everything. She suggests women and emphasis on consumption of greens, especially drumsticks leaves and jiggery to improve blood. The haemoglobin in the body is very important and proper food is essential.
She repeatedly discusses and explains the link between better health, early pregnancies and child marriage to the people.
Being a panchayat president she has limited powers. She had an urge to influence health care delivery beyond awareness building and persuasion. The Tamil Nadu health department guidelines limit the role of panchayat to create awareness and ensure proper sanitation in a village in their devolution.
As a panchayat president, she has not yet overcome the challenge of building and use of the public and individual toilet. Even though the government is giving money but still it is a problem. She somehow knows that it is not possible or easy to change the traditional attitudes of people.
This year, she will stand for re-election although her constituency is now a general constituency with no reservation for women. For her, her life has been a great teacher. The bitter experiences which she faced in her early life, she wishes it not to be repeated with anyone. And so she is a brave woman with the brave mind.
Sidhamallamma Kanchappa is a Woman of Courage because she is a true woman and an example for all, her ideas and imaginations about women’s health has made many women independent and stand at a better position in life. She is a true living example of humanity and devotion.
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