Advocacy Success – 6,500 New Carers Groups in India
Karnataka Government’s Landmark Decision for Unpaid Carers in India: An Inspiration for the Global Carers Movement
The recent decision by the Department for the Empowerment of Disabled and Senior Citizens, Government of Karnataka, India, to launch, run, promote and strengthen 6,500 Carers Groups, based on the ones we run as part of our work, is a significant milestone for unpaid family carers, particularly women, in the state.
This decision recognises the critical role of unpaid carers in society and aims to provide them with the necessary support in their caregiving responsibilities. By creating a platform for unpaid carers to come together, share their experiences, and advocate for their rights, the government is taking a positive step towards building a more inclusive and supportive society for carers, especially those in Karnataka.
Carers Worldwide are proud to have played a crucial role in this landmark policy gain, working alongside our local charity partners, the Carers Associations and State-Level Carers Forums that have been set up through our work, and other stakeholders. This announcement is the first of its kind in the history of Karnataka and serves as an inspiration for the unpaid carers’ movement in other states and neighbouring countries. We are thrilled to be a catalyst for change and remain committed to improving the lives of carers worldwide.
This ground-breaking announcement highlights the need for governments and civil society organisations worldwide to support and provide resources to unpaid family carers, particularly women, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). They must provide access to resources such as respite care, education and training, financial security, and healthcare services. Moreover, policies that promote gender equality and recognise the importance of unpaid care work must be advocated for.
On International Women’s Day, this decision is a historic step towards recognising and valuing the contributions of unpaid family carers in LMICs, particularly women.
We are pleased to share the story of Chanchola who has really benefited from being a part of one of our Carers Groups in Bangladesh. With the official launch of this new order, we look forward to thousands more unpaid family carers benefiting like Chanchola.
Courage for the future – Chanchola’s story
“When my son was born disabled, I was devastated. I thought there was no hope for him or me. When I joined the carers group I found hope for myself and I learned that there can be lots of opportunities for Bijoy too. Now I want to teach him skills and get him engaged in work when he is older. I can do a lot for my son to change his future. I have courage now.” – Chanchola
Chanchola’s eldest son Bijoy was born with cerebral palsy. She was blamed for her son’s disability by her husband and family, and shunned within the community. A lack of understanding about cerebral palsy and with no access to services, the family did not seek support for Bijoy and Chanchola was left isolated to try and meet his needs. She became increasingly despondent and saw no hope for herself or Bijoy in their future.
Chanchola’s depression meant that the staff at our local charity partner, Centre for Disability in Development, Bangladesh, had to work hard to persuade her to come along to a carers group meeting, but as soon as she did, her outlook started to change. For the first time, she was amongst other women who understood what she was going through and she was able to learn about the opportunities available for Bijoy and for herself.
Now, Chanchola is an active member of the Majhipara carers group and encourages newly identified carers to attend the meetings. With support from the group, Chanchola has successfully applied for Bijoy’s disability certificate which gives him access to a range of services and a monthly pension from the government. Both she and Bijoy are receiving the health services they need through the project’s health camps, and Bijoy is receiving physiotherapy as well. Chanchola has regular contact with one of the project’s barefoot counsellors and her mental health is improving.
Unusually for the area, Chanchola comes from a Hindu family whose traditional trade is pottery making. She has taken a loan from the carers group to set up her own pottery business from home. She makes the pots and her husband sells them door to door. The pair are now earning a steady income which has improved Chanchola’s status within the family and means they can afford to pay for the additional treatments that Bijoy needs, as well as save for the future.