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Dhritiman Das

Dhritiman Das
Position: Program Officer- Gender/ Epidemiologist
Organization: EngenderHealth
A rights champion, he has demonstrated positive disruptions in transforming gender relations in the area of family planning through visionary planning, roll-out and training with the state government of India, to strengthen quality assurance. – Madhu Bala Nath, Country Representative, India at EngenderHealth
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I have contributed towards planning/coordination of training govt. service providers in various family planning methods in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the most populated state in India. My most significant contribution would be my efforts towards bringing in gender mainstreaming in the field of Family Planning (FP) in India. With continuous advocacy with the govt. of UP, I have contributed towards development/roll-out of a Family Planning Counseling Module for the govt. that provides a gendered lens to this program. This module allows FP counselors and service providers to be gender sensitive during counseling or treating clients. This initiative has made providers to be more empathetic to their clients' needs and has steered way for a completely new chapter of transformation in service delivery.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I believe family planning is a powerful medium to bring in empowerment and freedom in the lives of women and men both which contributes to human development, a much required need of the hour in India. However, the essence of empowerment that it brings in is missing in our programs today; it is somewhere lost in translation with the advent of population control and stabilization. I want to rejuvenate this lost concept by advocating for people's rights and empowerment in the area of SRH in India.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

(a) Gender-based barriers to family planning utilization, adoption and continuation
(b) Maleficent provider attitudes towards clients.

With continued support from my organization, we are training providers through a gendered lens (Uttar Pradesh Counseling Module), continuous advocacy efforts with govt. and advocating for creation of constituencies on ground (community based groups) to foster change (in Bihar); we hope to bring about changes that are transformational and sustainable.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

Supply Side: Family Planning Programs in India has trickled down into a game of numbers. The concept of rights, free choice and client friendly providers attiitude have taken a back seat. Demand Side: Gender based barriers resulting in issues of access to services, high teenage pregnancies, high parity, high maternal mortality etc.
Solution: Gender mainstreaming of programs (supply side) focusing on client rights and aligning service delivery with community priorities through community groups.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

1. With organizational support, creation of community groups of women and men to become rights vigilante. Address issues of hegemonic masculinity that affect sexual health of women, by advocating for creation of men's groups that support women's rights to family planning.
2. Create and implement a Behavior Change Model for service providers: Provide a more comprehensive gender sensitive lens to service delivery that will usher behavior change and empathy among providers for the clients.

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