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Anganwadi Workers Strike in Andhra Pradesh

Context:

Anganwadi workers in Andhra Pradesh are on strike, seeking improved wages and benefits. The State government has responded by invoking the Essential Services and Maintenance Act (ESMA), 1971, imposing a six-month ban on their strikes due to the perceived impact on Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) at Anganwadi Centres.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Anganwadi Services: Overview and Role of Workers
  2. Major Roles and Responsibilities of AWWs
  3. Challenges Faced by Anganwadi Workers (AWWs)

Anganwadi Services: Overview and Role of Workers

ICDS Scheme Evolution:

  • Launched on October 2, 1975, the ICDS scheme has transformed into Anganwadi Services, now integrated into Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0.

Centrally Sponsored Scheme:

  • Implemented by States/UTs, it focuses on early childhood care and development for beneficiaries aged 0-6 years, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
  • Administered through a vast network of Anganwadi workers (AWW) and Helpers (AWH).

Services Offered:

  • Extends services to eligible beneficiaries through Anganwadi Centers nationwide.
  • Health-related services, including Immunization, Health Check-ups, and Referral Services, are provided through the National Rural Health Mission & Public Health Infrastructure.

Tracking Anganwadi Services:

  • Utilizes the ICT platform Poshan tracker for real-time data capture, monitoring, and implementation of Anganwadi Services.
  • Offers a comprehensive view of Anganwadi Centre activities, service deliveries by Anganwadi Workers (AWWs), and beneficiary management.

Major Roles and Responsibilities of AWWs:

  • Identifying and enrolling eligible pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under six for ICDS services.
  • Promoting community participation, raising awareness about ICDS programs, and advocating healthy behaviors.
  • Ensuring center cleanliness, maintaining records, and creating teaching materials.
  • Conducting age-appropriate activities to prepare children for formal schooling.
  • Regularly measuring children’s height and weight, identifying developmental delays, and facilitating interventions.
  • Offering guidance on childcare practices, child nutrition, and healthy habits.
  • Providing hot meals, take-home rations, and nutritional supplements to address malnutrition.
  • Monitoring children’s health, conducting basic checkups, and referring for further interventions.
  • Guiding Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) under the National Rural Health Mission.
  • Assisting in organizing immunization drives and educating communities on health, hygiene, and sanitation.

Challenges Faced by Anganwadi Workers (AWWs)

Financial Recognition:

  • AWWs are not officially recognized as government employees, receiving monthly honorariums significantly below minimum wages, ranging from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000.
  • Low compensation poses challenges in meeting basic needs, impacting their dedication to work.

Delayed Honorariums:

  • Common delays in receiving honorariums contribute to financial insecurity and hardships for AWWs.

Additional Unpaid Duties:

  • Assigned various tasks, AWWs often undertake additional responsibilities such as Covid-19 duties, Census duties, or implementing government schemes without extra financial benefits.
  • Extensive workloads lead to burnout, affecting the quality of services provided.

Training Gaps:

  • Initial training for AWWs falls short in adequately preparing them for the multifaceted challenges they encounter daily.

Lack of Resources:

  • Anganwadi centers often lack essential resources like proper infrastructure, teaching materials, and medicines, hindering effective functioning.

Societal Stigma and Recognition:

  • AWWs face societal stigma and lack recognition for their significant community contributions, impacting morale and motivation negatively.

-Source: The Hindu


February 2024
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