In the thicketed tropical jungle of southern India is a burgeoning industry of female nurses. The Keralan province has garnered a reputation for the nursing programs that help create careers for the local women. According to the Indian Planning Commission, Keralan poverty rates are the second lowest in the entire country, and the statistics for infant mortality are among the lowest as well.
Part of the success is the educational training given to young women and girls to provide a sense of independence as well as financial stability. In speaking with a head nurse at a Keralan province hospital, she said that it is more common for someone to come in with car accident wounds than for people to arrive with tropical infections. She continued to say that though the cases did occur, they were still pretty rare. As medical advancements and accessibility increase, over time, the infant mortality rate has decreased and overall life expectancy has increased as well.
The hospital is near a nursing school, and after their shifts, the nurses in training gather in the dusty courtyard. These young nurses, most just around 20 years old, are the future of the Kerala economy. With the in-demand knowledge, young women in the nursing sector are becoming migrants in the Gulf region and Western nations. Contributing to the decrease of Keralan poverty, these immigrants often send back money to help the relatives that remain in Kerala.
The education of the nurses empowers them to be financially independent. The job opportunities for women in nursing are helping to decrease the margin of the gender gap in India. Additionally, women are more able to stand up to the existing patriarchy. They have the liberty to move to other Indian states or immigrate, if they choose.
Expanding the opportunities for women, as well as extending health care to the rural Keralan province, has helped changed the socioeconomic landscape of the state. With the movement of nurses to other states, the knowledge from these colleges goes with them. Proving that knowledge is power, the health care industry has been revitalized by this new generation of promising young nurses, and in turn gives hope for the ability of future generations of women to expand on these opportunities.
— Kristin Ronzi