Even as the Himachal government boasts of having achieved women’s empowerment in the state, everyday hardships are leading to stress and other mental and physical health problems among females in rural areas. Women have been the backbone of the state’s economy but a host of vexatious issues they have to continually struggle with still make their life difficult.
Poor healthcare facilities, lack of teachers, water scarcity and the wildlife menace continue to plague the lives of womenfolk in villages.
Women from rural areas of the state gathered here on Wednesday to observe the International Day for Rural Women. The Himachal Gyan Vigyan Samiti, which has been at the forefront of spreading awareness among the rural populace about their rights organized a workshop on the occasion.
Women in rural areas still have to walk long distances to fetch drinking water. “In the absence of potable water in villages women make less use of water, which in turn affects their personal hygiene,” said Prago Devi, 70, of Peeran village of Kasumpati, one of the participants, who was critical about the acute water scarcity in rural areas. “We’ve to go out to every day to fetch drinking water for cattle and the nearest water source is about 1.5 kilometers from the village. The government is supposed to serve people . If it really wants to ensure regular supply of potable water in villages it shouldn’t be a big deal,” she said.
Lack of healthcare facilities, particularly experienced doctors, has adversely affected the health of rural women. “A pregnant woman in our village went for a medical checkup to a doctor, who was obviously inexperienced. After a while the fetus in her womb stopped moving. She was unable to go to Shimla to get medical assistance as there’s no road connecting the village,” Santosh, a resident of Koti ‘panchayat’, said.
The women were critical about the shortage of beds at the Kamla Nehru Hospital, earlier known as Lady Readings Hospital, the lone maternity hospital for women that was set up in 1924. They said pregnant women visiting the hospital invariably faced a tough time with most having to share beds .
The women also flayed the laboratory test for women prescribed at the state’s premier healthcare institution, the Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla. They said despite an ultrasound machine at the institute women were being referred to private clinics.
The participants at the workshop also demanded more medical camps should be organized in rural areas.
Issues facing women
Animal menace, particularly in surrounding rural area of Shimla town
Fodder scarcity near to habitation
Lack of Medical facility in rural areas
Vocational training to rural girls with more courses.