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Abstract

In the district of Agra in India, a group of female volunteers serve as advocates as well as advisors for community members on matters pertaining to maternal and prenatal health, child health and immunizations, and family planning services. The women, known as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) fight a battle against limited time, limited resources, limited education, and most of all societal restrictions. These women are asked to fulfill family obligations such as providing for the family and household with little help from their families. Many of them are regarded as naïve and foolish by their family members because they work without any compensation for their time. Some families have gone as far as forbidding them to continue their role as an ASHA due to fear of reprisal from conservative community members. Their role as an ASHA asks them to address key topics with villagers that are considered taboos – forms of contraception and family planning. Nevertheless, their spirit is not dampened.

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