Speaking cloth: Including women’s account of body experiences in health innovations

This paper is about a project that works upon getting women to reflect upon their bodily experiences and to draw and paint their experiences as a way to communicate-out their journeys of childbearing. I arrived at this project of visual narratives because of the dissatisfaction I felt upon reading the solutions within texts on the subject of Maternal deaths in poorly serviced contexts. Words are a great vehicle for the urban educated but as ‘technical vocabulary’, through demanding a medicalisation of local knowledge of childbearing practices, they also become the very instruments that disenfranchise the lived experience of pregnant women. The research question then was – how can these women speak so that they are heard, so that their voices are heard in all their complexity and not in a simplified way that fits into current medical and public health theory? My answer has been to use the gallery, the exhibition space in urban centres as the stage where these voices are expressed. The first hand-drawn cloth was a cultural probe that was used in field work encounters with women in remote communities in Assam, India. The experience of using the ‘painted cloth’ as a vehicle to incite an outpouring of experiences from affected women and hurt families led to the development of 5 themes of narration. These themes were illustrated for exhibition by a Melbourne based artist where she reflectively drew upon her personal experiences to draw-out her narratives. I have since been working with a New Delhi based Textile artist to set up a project to get remote-rural-poor craftswomen to do similar paintings. These paintings are their stories – telling of their experiences of their childbirth experiences and of incidents in their community. These works are a way for the “voices” of these women, and the stories from remote rural communities, to be heard in urban centres through exhibitions of their works. The aesthetics and form of the story will go a long way in retaining the details in the narratives. By becoming images these narrative works are not reducible, as words often are, to being bracketed  as “formulaic problems”. This format (gallery) and this location (urban) is one part of the project focussed upon contributing a unique dimension that of  the perspective of remote-rural-poor women, to the policy discourse surrounding maternal deaths in communities distant from urban centres. Once the pieces are produced the next activity is the performance. The project envisages a travelling exhibition that stops at key places to conduct a conversation as a workshop, a provocation or a symposium. This event is envisaged to be a reading of the stories from the cloths as a conversation that aims to look at maternal health from the perspective of the women. The amplifying of the voices of remote-rural-poor woman is intended to give health innovators access to the lived experiences of pregnant women and to consider the women as partners and components of the solution ecosystems being developed.

Abstract submitted to Include 2013

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Maternal and Perinatal Conditions — Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries — NCBI Bookshelf

In 2001, maternal and perinatal conditions represented the single largest contributor to the global burden of disease, at nearly 6 percent of total DALYs (Mathers and others 2004). Reducing that burden is widely stated as a priority at both national and international levels, but the track record of translating the rhetoric into action on a sufficiently large and equitable scale to make a difference at the population level remains disappointing. The literature abounds with examples of this disappointment (see, for example, Maine and Rosenfield 1999; Weil and Fernandez 1999). Many reasons account for the limited progress, especially in the poorest regions of the world, and researchers offer many interpretations of the bottlenecks. Lack of evidence on the size of the burden and on the effectiveness of alternative intervention strategies figures prominently in these interpretations.

via Maternal and Perinatal Conditions — Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries — NCBI Bookshelf.

There is a really extensive bibliography listed in this site.

Human Rights Facts (37): Maternal Mortality « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

Maternal death, or maternal mortality, is the death of a woman during or shortly after a pregnancy. More than half a million women die during pregnancy or childbirth every year, and many millions suffer from inadequately treated complications. About half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and about one third occur in South Asia – the two regions together account for about 85 per cent of all maternal deaths. In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman’s risk of maternal death is 1 in 22, compared with 1 in 8.000 in developed countries.

via Human Rights Facts (37): Maternal Mortality « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc..

DevInfo – di Facts

The vast majority of maternal deaths – more than 99 per cent, according to the 2005 UN inter-agency estimates – occurred in developing countries. Half of these (265,000) took place in sub-Saharan Africa and another third (187,000) in South Asia. Between them, these two regions accounted for 85 per cent of the world’s pregnancy-related deaths in 2005. India alone had 22 per cent of the global total.

via DevInfo – di Facts.

Research_Projects_for_PhDs



Research_Projects_for_PhDs, originally uploaded by soumitriv.

A sketch of research projects at the meta level – potential PhD questions or areas of work. The idea of capacity development includes the development of research capacity-expertise in India. So these could be international research students.

What other projects could there be?

MH_Expertise_network



MH_Expertise_network, originally uploaded by soumitriv.

I was looking to create a network of experts – a network that will mirror what will be available in India. This will make for easy collaboration and for discipline or expertise orientated capacity development projects to be visualized.

Have I missed out a discipline?

Thinking through how the project will work



bub_MHP1, originally uploaded by soumitriv.

There are a whole series of ways we currently work in Industrial Design – on design orientated projects and capacity development project. There are therefore a raft of agencies supporting the students, scholars and staff in their research. I have captured some of the dimensions in this mind map.

Are there other ways to enable the action research project?