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15 Mar 2021

Saas Bahu Sammelan


‘Saas,’ or mother-in-law, plays a crucial role in the lives of women, especially in the life of the ‘bahu’ or daughter-in-law of the household. In the villages of southern Rajasthan, a daughter-in-law’s social mobility, ability to network and her reproductive health often depend a great deal on the relationship with her husband’s mother. 
In an effort to promote supportive conversations on maternal and child health, Seva Mandir recently organized ‘Saas Bahu Sammelan’ which translates to “A Coming Together of Mother and Daughter-in-Law’.
The community event series reached more than 600 rural women in Kumbhalgarh and was focused on encouraging dialogue on the critical first 1000 days of a child’s life, the period of rapid physical growth and accelerated mental development that offers a unique opportunity to build lifelong health and intelligence. Creating safe spaces to discuss household food choices and hygiene practices, these events also aimed to contextualize child development as beginning at the start of a woman’s pregnancy when good nutrition and regular prenatal care is most crucial.
Participants were pregnant and lactating women with their mothers-in-law, most of whom work as farmers and daily wage laborers. Myths around childbirth in villages, the importance of hygiene and understanding the crucial role of support systems in families were explored through movies and group discussions. Government health workers were also key collaborators in these events. Notably, many new fathers also benefited from the program. One in Jardaya, by the name of Sharat ii, came away saying, “I really did not know a woman’s body is undergoing so many changes.”
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