ASHA Worker From Odisha Features In Forbes W-Power 2021 List
Making it to the Forbes W-Power 2021 list, Matilda Kullu from the Sundargarh district of Odisha is a true Covid warrior and among the strongest women personalities from the state. She has been working as an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker for the Gargadbahal village in Baragaon tehsil of the district for the last 15 years, playing a pivotal role in bringing the healthcare system closer to the people, who are mostly tribal.
It has been a difficult journey for Kullu, but she has always fought bravely to overcome all the hurdles. She had to bear the brunt of casteism and untouchability during door-to-door visits as she belongs to a Scheduled Tribe.
“It was really bad some years ago, things are much better now. People have become more understanding and less superstitious. The old generation still practises untouchability but that doesn’t bother me anymore”, said Kullu while speaking to Forbes.
Even after their strenuous hard work, some workers remain underpaid. They act as the grassroots contact for the government when it comes to any medical emergency.
“ASHAs are the eyes and hands of the government. To get any information from the grassroots or pass on the information there, the officials are completely dependent on these workers. They have done a great job in handling the pandemic in rural areas. Yet, they don’t even get any minimum wages prescribed by the government of India. They’re only given remuneration and no fixed wages. Their long-pending demand is to recognise them as workers and not as volunteers. Because only then will they get other social security benefits”, said BV Vijayalakshmi, general secretary of the National Federation of ASHA Workers.