Social justice – stepping towards action
Just distribution of wealth, power and resources lead to social justice for all. It is already recognized that social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among nations. Unfortunately due to social taboo and outdated definitions of morality, representatives of key population (women in sex work, people who inject drugs, men have sex with men, transgender and hijra population) are left behind from these opportunities and social security. While we ensure prevention and care of HIV for the key population community, a holistic response is needed for their well-being. Working on social protection therefore become a very important aspect for people working with the communities.
One of the key objectives of our Nirantar programme is to work with key population to facilitate linkages or access to social protection schemes (SPS) assured by state and national governments in order to maximise the benefits and reduce their vulnerabilities. As part of the intervention, Nirantar programme collected schemes and applications forms from various government departments and prepared a compendium which has details of around 70 schemes, namely women and child development, health & family welfare, education, housing, women empowerment, food & nutrition, employment and livelihood. To reach out to key population with schemes, help desk committees are formed with community representatives in each district. These help desks regularly contact the district level nodal officers of departments mentioned above. In Chhattisgarh, transgender welfare board is actively involved in all interactions with district level nodal officers and help desk. The majority of board members are actively involved in Nirantar programme implementation, so that it lead a pathway to conduct district level meetings.
Nirantar experience from the state of Chhattisgarh shows that there are more than 200 schemes with different government departments, but only 40-45% population is benefited, and the government faces the challenge of reaching out to the eligible and needy person. It is sad to see, out of 26,000 key population (FSW, MSM, TG, Hijra & PWID), only 25-30 % are aware about the social protection and social entitlement schemes. This is due to lack of awareness and information about schemes and mechanism to access them. Nirantar with social welfare department conducted a camp with various departments in Raipur district which was attended by more than 400 key population representatives, wherein 180 people from the transgender community got enrolled in various schemes.
Nirantar programme in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha also geared up facilitation with government departments and key population to ensure better access to various schemes applicable to the community. Strategy to bring the schemes to the door steps of community is well accepted by key population and other stakeholders. Steps are taken under the programme to ensure a space for the community in development sector to act as stepping stone in the journey of social justice to the citizens who generally face discrimination.
The author of this blog is N.R.Manilal, Project Director and Principal Investigator: Nirantar