Society for Nutrition, Education, and Health Action (SNEHA) is a secular India-based nonprofit organization focusing on the health and wellbeing of women and girls. More specifically, they have four main targets of public healthcare: Maternal and Newborn Health, Child Health and Nutrition, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Prevention of Violence against Women and Children.
Nonprofits like SNEHA perform vital functions for women who may not otherwise be able to get access to the resources they desperately need. This is especially important for low-income Indian women who often have many children at a very young age.
Young and frequent childbearing mostly stems from poverty, but is also a result of many factors including lack of nutrition, healthcare, and insufficient education. Indian girls who become pregnant at a young age usually leave school and then become isolated from society.
SNEHA recognizes this and provides women with education on topics like the warning signs of domestic abuse and how to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This organization also assists many in learning vocational skills and combating malnutrition in their children.
Dr. Armida Fernandez and Mary Patricia Soans are the joint founder trustees of SNEHA. Fernandez had a 25-year career as Professor and Head of Neonatology at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General (LTMG) Hospital and Medical College and was Dean of the hospital for 3 years. Soans is a social worker and is acting chairperson of the Advanced Locality Management group in her area.
SNEHA has had a huge impact on their community since their founding the 1990s. They have assisted over 21,000 referred pregnant women with potential complications to deliver safely through SNEHA-initiated referral networks, provided health and life skills education to over 10,000 adolescents, offered vocational training to over 5,000 young people, trained and sensitized 4,500 police officers in Mumbai, and much more.
Today in India, marital rape is still not considered a crime, and an act of violence is committed against a woman every three minutes. Most of the victims of these crimes are under the age of 18. In 2012, the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman seemed to shock the world. In many ways, it served as a wake-up call to a culture in need of significant reform.
SNEHA’s goal is to protect these women and give them the tools they desperately need to feel less vulnerable. Free and open conversations on sexuality and health are an important part of helping women and children, but it also takes the dedication of the over 350 employees of SNEHA working tirelessly to bring about change. Because of their positive attitudes and desire for justice, they are able to boast many success stories in the face of adversity.
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