18th Sep, 2019
Ms. Gowramma hails from Kallur village, North Karnataka. She works part-time as a Health Entrepreneur under KHPT’s NCD (Non-Communicable Diseases) Project, and part-time as an L.I.C. Agent. Health Entrepreneurs (HEs) are entrepreneurs from the local community who work towards improving accessibility and affordability of health services in their community post their training. The project enables HEs to sustain through income generated by selling health services (tests) and products.
Gowramma is married for eight years now and stays in a joint family. She doesn’t have any children. She thinks that these jobs have provided her a stand in society. Working for a social cause gives her immense satisfaction and it helps her bond with people better. Given her interest in political affairs and experience of campaigning in her village for a politician, she is well known in her own as well as other villages in the district of Kalaburgi. Gowramma has been working as an insurance agent for the last 8-9 years, as an HE for the last 9 months, and is of the view that both her jobs complement each other well.
She tells us that she convinces people about the risks involved in working in cement factories and stone quarries (a major occupation in the region), and this helps generate business for her as an insurance agent. When she does this, during her visit as an L.I.C. agent she also conducts B.P. and Diabetes tests as a HE. Gowramma has never allowed her gender to be a deterrent in her work. She is very amiable and people are comfortable with her and she doesn’t face any issues by virtue of being a woman. She uses terms such as “bhaiya” and “uncle” to address men, which gives them a sense of intimacy and they do not hesitate getting tests done by a ‘woman’. Sometimes she also conducts some tests for free considering the economic condition of a few beneficiaries.
Gowramma’s family is very supportive. They proudly say “she works as her father!”. Occasionally her mother chides her for coming home late when she visits other villages. Nevertheless, everyone appreciates her and her work. What motivates her to continue working as a HE is that she can create awareness among people about Hypertension, Diabetes, Anaemia, etc. Gowramma has a dream of opening her own “Diagnostics Laboratory” in which she wants to have tests for Typhoid and Malaria as well, but she knows that it requires more training. She envisions that this would be of great benefit for the people, as they won’t have to go to other districts for these tests, because generally doctors are unavailable in Government hospitals and they have to visit private practitioners during emergencies.
At times, people are skeptical about her work because Government tests are for free. Then again, other women of her village are inspired by her and are keen to know more about her work. Some also ask her about HE training, and occasionally even wish to accompany her during home visits to find out more about the role.
Gowramma has a well-balanced life and a strict daily schedule. She manages all her duties efficiently. Waking up at 5 in the morning, she finishes household chores by 7 am. Then she does home visits for both LIC and HE work. She has a decent income from both her jobs, some of which is spent on ration and the rest is deposited in her savings account. Her husband is a land surveyor and recently they bought a plot of land and are constructing their own house. Gowramma shares her profits in the construction of the house. When asked why she does two jobs apart from household work, she says “I want to earn like a Madam.” Gowramma sees herself as an HE and LIC Agent in the future too! It is indeed inspiring to see women like her aspiring to be economically independent and also families like hers who support their women in realising their dreams.