Krishna Kumari Pun
This profile was prepared when Krishna Kumari Pun was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Krishna has developed an integrated system of health care through her organization, Snehi Jagaran Mahila, to ensure the health of women and children. This system provides women with training and skills to care for themselves and other women during pregnancy and works to end a cultural system of isolation prevalent in remote districts throughout Nepal. It ensures care for the mother’s health during pregnancy and the baby’s safe delivery. Krishna is to dispelling stigmas of female “pollution” during pregnancy through education and midwifery training. Snehi Jagaran Mahila provides female village leaders with maternity service training. Following their training, they are charged with providing midwifery services to villagers in need. Krishna has trained enough women to have a midwife present in every Village Development Committee in Baitadi, in the far west region of Nepal. These local midwives services include monthly check-ups, birthing services, and care after childbirth; free of charge if necessary. Collectively, these women demonstrate that childbirth and menstruation do not pollute women, but ensure that women have safe pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. In addition to transforming the experience of birthing and motherhood in Nepal, Krishna is changing the perception of a woman’s place in society—pregnant mothers now receive adequate health attention. Krishna believes it takes collective action to dispel stigmas surrounding women’s reproductive health. If women work collectively to promote safe birthing practices and raise awareness, the stigmas associated with birth will cease to exist. To this end, Krishna pursues a unique, holistic approach, combining access to health care before, during, and after childbirth, with other empowering social structures. Krishna also established a maternity center/hospital in Baitadi—one of the most isolated and poorest districts in the country—where village women receive delivery assistance, counseling, and general health services, at minimal cost. The revenue for maternal care is subsidized by paid-for-care given at the dental health clinic, the pharmacy, and the family planning unit, in Krishna’s village hospital. Currently, Krishna is focused on training health staff, establishing an active maternal health network among villages, and expanding to other districts.