Sector Wide Approach to Strengthening Health ( SWASTH )

Bihar Technical Assistance Support Team (BTAST)
Government of Bihar initiative supported by Department for International Development, UK


DFID-India applauds WDC and SWASTH for addressing Gender and VAW issues

Patna: The Government of Bihar (GoB) and the Women Development Corporation (WDC) hosted a meeting in the city on March 8, 2016, to welcome Marshall Elliott, Head of Office, DFID-India, to discuss issues regarding women’s empowerment and Violence Against Women (VAW). Marshall was on a visit to review the progress of the interventions and engage with key departments and stakeholders about DFID-India’s support in Bihar. Among those present on this occasion were Vandana Kini, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare Department; V N Sinha, Hon’ble Justice (Retired); Om Prakash, Member Secretary, State Legal Services Authority, Bihar; SWASTH nodal officials from Women Development Corporation (WDC), and members from Bihar Technical Assistance Support Team (BTAST).

Dr N Vijaya Laxmi, Managing Director, WDC, made a presentation about the multiple interventions including a package of VAW interventions; Gram Varta through the existing Self Help Groups (SHGs), and setting up of a Gender Resource Centre that are being implemented by WDC under the Sector Wide Approach to Strengthening Health (SWASTH) programme.

She acknowledged BTAST’s support to WDC in conceptualising and supporting implementation of the comprehensive approach to address gender inequality and VAW issues in Bihar through deep engagement with multiple departments (including health, and education,) and other stakeholders (including police and judiciary) using both responsive and preventive approaches.  She also appreciated the role of BTAST in supporting WDC in adopting a proactive approach to implement women specific legislations like the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), in the state. 

Marshall mentioned in his speech that gender and VAW and gender have been the central focus for DFID country programmes including SWASTH programme in Bihar. He was glad to note that Bihar has made rapid advancement on gender issues, which is reflected in the improved women’s empowerment indicators and reduction in the incidence of spousal violence (as per the latest NFHS 4 survey). He was especially impressed with the cooperation between various sectors including police, judiciary and social sectors like health, education, etc.

Whilst expressing pleasure with the fact that the Bihar Government has made progress in institutionalizing majority of interventions through their own efforts, he also  emphasised the need to focus on  sustainability of interventions too. Applauding BTAST, Mr. Marshal added that the Independent Commission for Aid Impact – an organisation that undertakes independent review of UK aid spending and its contribution to development results – had appreciated DFID’s work in Bihar on VAW in their recent learning review conducted in Bihar in Nov, 2015.

Hon’ble Justice (Retired) Mr V N Sinha also expressed his satisfaction with the integrated working of Bihar Technical Assistance Team (BTAST), WDC and the judiciary and urged DFID to continue supporting the state. In her remarks, Vandana Kini, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare Department, also commended BTAST for its support to the department and expressed the need for all development partners to align with the priorities of the state.