Babai Sathe is the recipient of the CII Woman Exemplar Award 2012 for Health for her outstanding contribution in improving the health and sanitation standards in Jawalke village, Maharashtra. In her role as a Village Health Worker (VHW), Babai provides voluntary primary healthcare to her village, and acts as a key change agent, mobilizing her community to achieve health and development objectives through the medium of community groups. She was nominated for the Award by Comprehensive Rural Health Project, impressed by Babai’s selfless service and dedication to her cause.
Born into a poor Dalit home, Babai was abandoned by her husband and had to struggle against prejudice and poverty. Despite her illiteracy, she trained as a VHW, and learned that 80% of health problems can be managed by the people themselves. To address sanitation concerns, she mobilized community groups, Farmers’ Club and Women’s Groups, to implement soak pits in her village, helping to reduce the transmission of water-borne diseases. She worked very hard to provide appropriate health assistance to her people, delivering babies with such care and efficiency that not a single death has occurred out of the 200 deliveries that she has conducted in her twenty years as a VHW. Babai’s continuous engagement with both mother and child from the pre-natal stage led to the eradication of malnutrition in her village. Babai has also encouraged 344 women to undergo birth control surgeries, thus making a significant contribution to maternal health and well being.
In 2005, Babai was nominated for the Jawalke Panchayat elections. Unopposed, she won the election and became the village Sarpanch, as the villagers recognized the tremendous improvements she had single-handedly brought about in their lives.
Babai has been a very effective Sarpanch. She has carried out community projects such as building roads, installing pipelines and water tanks to ensure running water in every household, and bringing electricity to every home. She has built 30 houses for the poor under the Indira Awas Yojana in her term. She has also encouraged the men in her village to give women a share in property ownership.
We congratulate Babai as an inspirational Woman Exemplar in the field of Health!