Ashavani means both “the voice of hope” and “the voice of Ashas”. Ashas or Accredited Social Health Activists are women community health workers working in a national government health program in India. They are the face of women community health workers across the globe, as the Asha program is one of the largest and most well-structured CHW programs globally.
Ashavani is an e-platform that advocates the professional growth of women community health workers in India. It highlights the issues of the Asha workers that also have linkages with the concerns of other women community health workers across the globe.
Ashavani is owned and created by Dr Kavita Bhatia, an experienced independent researcher in public health, based in India. Dr Kavita Bhatia has over three decades of experience in research, advocacy, documentation, teaching and training. She has used various forms of digital media extensively in her work. She has a wide exposure to the public and voluntary health sectors in India and has worked at the local, national and global levels. She is a member of the Gender Equity Hub (GEH) of the Global Health Workforce Network . GEH is co-chaired by Women in Global Health (WGH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The interventions carried out through this platform since 2008 are:
Research on the Asha program.
There is a lot of research on performance of community health workers but little on their working conditions. We carry out research on the Asha program, highlighting these aspects and produce published papers in peer reviewed journals.
Advocacy for the rights of Asha workers.
We advocate the rights of all women community health workers although we work with Ashas. There is a constant effort to keep the dialogue going through efforts like filing Right to Information (RTI) petitions, applications to the Union and State governments, participation in group platforms for changes in labour laws and participation on list serves. We respond directly to Ashas by intervening with the concerned authorities and local press to highlight topical issues.
Training of Asha workers.
At the state and local levels, we maintain constant dialogue with Asha workers, and conduct small group leadership training for Ashas. We also train Ashas to be digitally literate in order to function better at work and also share their achievements and concerns. We have supported two information centres set up by Ashas through a registered non-government organisation formed by the Ashas in the state of Maharashtra.
Virtual participation in global initiatives for the rights of women community health workers.
We have participated virtually in global initiatives for the rights of community health workers through participation on global working groups on community health workers, constant dialogue in global list serves, conferences, interviews and video presentations. We make extensive use of digital media to highlight the issues.
Maintaining an E-repository on CHWs.
We maintain documentation for reference, of significant legal Acts and developments for the rights and growth of community health workers.
Showcasing photographic and audio-visual media made by Ashas and other community health workers highlighting their own work.