Anganwadi Workers in India
Anganwadi is a child and health care system in India, initiated by the government to promote nutrition, education and health care to its citizens, particularly in rural areas. Anganwadi workers in India are the first point of contact between organized health care and the poor people in rural India. The responsibilities of these workers include caring for the health and well being of nursing women, children and socioeconomically deprived groups.

The Anganwadi Workers

There are over one million Anganwadi centers in India with 2 million workers, benefiting over 70 million people. Each worker is responsible for the well-being of around 1,000 people in villages across India. The workers are from the community they operate in and thus have an intimate understanding of the issues surrounding patients. They are able to gain the trust of the patients and are thus able to provide for their needs.

This workforce includes mostly women and is regarded as an acceptable and effective means of employment for women in rural areas. Nursing women and children are comfortable being treated by these workers and find it easier to seek help. The workers participate in rudimentary training and skills to care for the people in their village.

The workers are often the only source of help for villagers and thus allow more people to gain access to health care. Rural India suffers from issues such as overpopulation, lack of sanitation and illiteracy, and these workers are able to ease the overburdened health care system of the country.

Benefits for the Children

Anganwadi centers also serve as free-of-cost preschool centers for children in the area. These centers also organize immunization programs for children and provide information on how to attain adequate nutrition. The mission of the organization is to remove malnutrition in India by 2022. The successes of polio and leprosy eradication programs in the country owe a great deal to the efforts of the Anganwadi workers.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development provides different types of training for workers, including classroom training. Some workers receive up to 3 months of training. Workers are also provided with refresher training from time to time. This ensures that workers have some understanding of health care and social development of children and are able to provide assistance to families.

Educational and Environmental Role

There has been a recent focus on sanitation measures that include providing drinking water, promoting personal hygiene practices and establishing practices of environmental sanitation. This provides people with tools to care for themselves and their environment. Workers provide advice on preventing open defecation, unhygienic food preparation and unsanitary living.

Anganwadi centers also organize workshops to empower adolescent girls through education, skill development and personal hygiene. By promoting literacy and nutrition, the centers are providing resources to young girls to develop themselves personally and professionally. This is also a means to reduce child marriages by providing skills to be economically and socially empowered.

Workers also utilize technology such as smartphones to create a database of residents of the village and schedule home visits for those who are immobile. Technology is also used to track activities, attendance and growth. This is also a good way to track progress and keep workers accountable.

Despite their helpful service, Anganwadi workers in India are severely underpaid. The government of India has provided greater incentives and salary to these workers so they are able to provide for themselves adequately.

Anganwadi workers in India provide the systematically oppressed with access to health care, education and sanitation facilities. This allows for an improvement in the quality of life of Indians and provides many women with employment opportunities. Continuous work of this organization will benefit the country in its goal of eradicating poverty.

– Isha Kakar
Photo: Flickr