Sama is a resource group based in Delhi, working on issues related to women and health. Sama was initiated in 1999 by a group of feminist activists who were involved in the autonomous women’s movement which views health from a broader perspective and finds linkages of women’s well being with various determinants of health. These founder members were a part of Shodhini – a collective that had come together in the 1980s to explore meaningful, women-oriented, simple, natural and cost effective alternatives in health that would be committed towards increasing women’s control over their own resources.
Sama means “equality” in Sanskrit and other Indian languages. Our logo also symbolizes equality which is an intrinsic part of Sama’s philosophy and vision.
Sama considers health a fundamental human right and believes this can be achieved by strengthening public health system, regulating private sector and curtailment of multiple forms of discrimination based on caste, class, gender, religion, ethnicity, ability and sexual orientation.
Our commitment is to integrate the gender, caste, class and rights analysis within the wider context of other social relations in order to emphasize the complexity of existing power relations that result in exclusion and marginalization. The usual disease-doctor-drugs approach to health is not sufficient to meet the health needs of the people, especially that of the marginalized and disadvantaged communities. There is a growing need to develop a broader understanding of health which includes health care services and determinants of health, and initiate interventions that enable and empower people to have greater control over their physical, social, and political environments, all of which influence their health.
Sama’s objectives are to:
- Identify emerging issues and building recognition of priorities related to health of women, young girls and marginalized in collaboration with community based organisations and networks.
- Build evidence on the impact of existing policies and programs on the core health concerns of the poor and marginalized in order to influence the existing discourse and practices.
- Engage with health systems to develop leadership, operational capacity and mechanisms for improved design, delivery and monitoring of quality, accessible, health care services, with pro-active people’s involvement.
- Provide adolescent girls with a variety of opportunities for creative self-expression to enhance their self-confidence, and build a positive self-image as women.
- Sensitize men towards women’s issues and motivate them to bring about changes in the unequal relationships and exploitative arrangements in the family and society.
- Acknowledge the collective experience and existing knowledge of women and traditional healers, traditional birth attendants and integrate these in local health practices.
- Undertake advocacy initiatives for health issues to create public awareness and network with organizations and coalitions to build consensus and inform policies.
- Strengthen civil society for evidence-based advocacy through capacity building, networking and information sharing in order to increase state and social accountability and influence effective policy implementation and regulation.
- Provide platform for discussing emerging issues, devising strategies and planning interventions to help address issues at local, regional, national and international levels.
Sama’s interventions involve developing pedagogies, initiating discourses and interactions to enable people to realize their entitlements towards health in a more effective and sustainable way. Sama uses a range of intervention strategies, which are:
- Training, Building Capacities and Leadership
- Policy Advocacy and Monitoring
- Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge Resources
- Building Partnerships, Active Constituencies and Coalitions
These intervention strategies are closely inter-linked. Our capacity building initiatives contribute to advocacy by providing a platform to articulate health needs and priorities, strengthen skills to carry out critical analysis, develop leadership to support and strengthen community based organizations. Research is used to substantiate advocacy efforts by documenting the marginalised health needs and concerns. Through the production and dissemination of knowledge resources such as reports, booklets, and policy briefs as well as through curricula development, we aim at furthering existing literature, discourse and tools on the intersection of health rights and gender justice.
Sama’s interventions has sustained its outreach at different levels, including Community Based Organizations, Non Governmental Organizations, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), women’s groups and collectives, youth, coalitions like Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) and Medico Friend Circle (MFC), autonomous bodies like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Women (NCW), health workers and health care providers, medical professionals, National and Regional Associations of health professionals and doctors and other service providers – The Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) & The Association of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists of Delhi (AOGD), policy makers – Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), Parliamentarians, and the media.
Sama has extensively worked in partnership with local NGOs, organisations and forums. This ensures need based, effective and enduring interventions at the local level.
Sama has followed a conscious path to carve a niche for women’s health and wellbeing and has played an active role in initiating small but effective interventions. Sama has been aligning itself with other progressive pro-poor movements in India, as well as internationally on varied levels. Similarly, collaboration with statutory bodies like the National Human Rights Commission has proved to be strategic in increasing accountability of the State towards achieving Right to Health Care. Sama is now recognised as an important support and advocacy group on gender, health and rights.