TARUNYA Adolescent Girls work to eliminate gender differentials in new born care

TARUNYA: Adolescent Girls work to eliminate gender differentials in new born care

From November 2020 toFebruary 2021,Agragami India helped Engender Health to test a pilot model initiative in which adolescent girls built awareness in families and communities on how to improve new-born survival, while addressing gender differentials in newborn care.

Agragami India selected and oriented 1,005 adolescent girl peer educators from the Rashtriya Kishore SwasthyanKaryakram in Sitamarhi, as Champions of newborn care. Adolescent Girl Champions (AGCs) were provided with key messages and supporting information, education and communication material on newborn care.

The key outcome desired from this exercise was improved survival of newborn girls. Supporting outcomes were improved knowledge of newborn care among AGCs; improved understanding of AGCs on gender barriers that affect the care of newborn girls in their communities; improved knowledge and practices related to newborn care within the community, and the provision of equal care to all newborns regardless of whether they are boys or girls.

Between December 2020 and February 2021, the accredited social health workers (ASHAs) helped the AGCs to identify all homes where a girl child had been born within the last four weeks. The AGCS visited each family once a week, for four weeks. During these visits, they delivered key messages on newborn care to family members and provided handouts with contact details of the nearest health centre, so that it could be accessed if needed. The ASHA of the village accompanied the AGC on her first visit to each family.

Within two months of starting work, AGCs built a good rapport with the families of newborn girls in their respective communities. They earned the confidence of the ASHAs, who now see them as an important resource for communicating with the community. Influential members of the community have recognized the potential of these adolescent girls as counsellors who can help save the lives of newborn girls.