Welcome to #15YearsOfImpact, a compendium of some of our favourite impact stories, as narrated by independent evaluators, our partners and others who have worked with us shoulder to shoulder.
The idea of Swasti was incubated 16 years ago by Catalyst Management Services Private Limited, with a mission to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable and marginalised communities; through action research and implementation, technical support, knowledge management and policy advocacy.
Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a framework for measuring and accounting for this very value returned on investment. It incorporates the entire gamut of social, environmental and economic ben- efits, guiding programmes and investments alike. Behind this number is the story of how the Avahan programme has ensured greater safety for com- munities, health-seeking behaviour, financial health and a reduction of new HIV infections.
Ten years ago, while working with farmers, Vrutti Livelihood Resource Centre noticed something odd about the people. Many of them looked aged beyond their years, seemingly malnourished. Farm- ing couples were hunched over from pain, going to local clinics for analgesics to be able to work extra hours on the fields. Concerned, Vrutti invited Swasti, it’s sister outfit to come to Chikkaballapur and intervene.
Global development challenges are persistent. Evolving effective approaches to solving them requires robust evidence. Well designed research can have a wide influence on society, and the importance of good research in achieving positive impact on communities cannot be understated. Research methods should reach hidden and vulnerable populations, mitigate unconscious bias and elicit the most personal answers. To do this, they need to be nuanced, sensitive and distinct.
Gender equality in Human Resources for Health (HRH) is defined very specifically. ‘Women and men have an equal chance of choosing a health occupation, developing the requisite skills and knowl- edge, being fairly paid, enjoying equal treatment and advancing in a career.’ Yet, gender inequities are rampant among the health workforce and this issue is even more pronounced when it comes to policy development, planning and research.
Having followed the evolution of HIV response globally for over a decade, what stands out is the early realisation of the stakeholders that HIV is not just a medical issue, but also involves behavioural, social and economic factors. This realisation has led countries to think differently in their responses to the epidemic and has necessitated a multi-sec- toral approach.
In December 2004, after the tsunami devastat- ed coastal areas around the Indian Ocean, many humanitarian agencies, funding organisations, governments, NGOs and private individuals came forward to support relief and rehabilitation initia- tives.
The Tufts University Labor Lab conducted an im- pact evaluation using randomised controlled trials, of the Women In Factories training programme in El Salvador, Honduras, Bangladesh and India since 2014. In India, this study was conducted on the Women In Factories programme (WIF), an initiative of the Walmart Foundation’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEEI) programme.
In 2003, a group of 13 women in sex work in Bangalore formed their own community
organisation, Swathi Mahila Sangha (SMS) and threw open its doors to marginalised women in the city. They had visited Bangladesh and Kolkata and were impressed with how women in sex work were running community institutions there. These institutions provided significant empowerment for its members. Drawing support from various partner organisations and following stringent protocols of elected community leadership, SMS drove innovations that were designed to meet the needs of the community.
The first thing anyone ever asks when a child is born is whether the baby is a girl or a boy, while a more sensible question may be to enquire after its health. Instead, the newborn receives balloons in pink or blue. As the child grows up, it is surrounded by social signalling that it must want blue because he’s a boy. Is it wrong then for the child to want a Barbie in a pink dress?
Following 16 years of leadership by Founding Presi- dent Shiv Kumar, Shama Karkal took on the role
of CEO in April 2017. Ever since her involvement with the Golden Gate Regional Centre in the US, where she worked with developmentally disabled children and adults, Shama has focused on chan- nelling her passion for social good into a career. After returning to India in 2004 with a Masters in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Balti- more, she took up meaningful and deep work stints in maternal and child health, first with SAATHI and then in Kushal Foundation, both non-profits.
In India, the state and central governments pro- vide more than 200 social protection schemes that reduce levels of vulnerability, risk and deprivation among the most marginalised communities. Some examples of social protection schemes in the coun- try include pension schemes, health insurance, education assistance and housing schemes.
For the vulnerable, there is a darker side to a visit to the hospital – Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) and patients with weak immune systems are the most susceptible. Inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) account for about 10 per-cent of all infections.
Peer-led outreach is a critical element of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) – reduction interventions aimed at sex workers. Swasti studied the association between peer-led outreach to sex workers and the time to utilise health facilities for timely STI syndromic detection and treatment.
Swathi Jyoti was selected from 130 other urban mi- cro enterprises in the country for this award, based on its work towards economic empowerment of vulnerable women, in this case women in sex work.