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Empowering women through convergence

Aug 01, 2013

Hand in Hand-India’s project in Rajasthan aims to facilitate convergence of all women-centric socio-economic development programmes of the government through Self-help Groups.

Rajasthani Women

As part of Mission Poorna Shakti, India’s Ministry of Women & Child Development invited Hand in Hand India to implement its development initiatives in the Pali district of Rajasthan. In April 2012, Hand in Hand India launched the project in Pali block of the district. Hand in Hand-India’s project aims to improve well-being and reduce poverty level of women, and facilitate convergence of all women-centric socio-economic development programmes of the government through Self-help Groups.

The proposed project plan aims to form and strengthen women’s Self-help Groups, capacity building, establish bank linkages and access to micro credit and creation of family and women-based enterprises. To form SHGs, Hand in Hand-India targets women who are poor, underserved and marginalised but desire to improve their income; and trains them on group dynamics, financial literacy and skills.

This helps build their capacity so that they can be in cohesive groups and successfully set-up and run their own microenterprises. The basic scoping study narrowed down the initial implementation block to Pali with new branches added in subsequent months in Rohar and Sojat.

Special attention has been paid to the formation of SHGs, which eventually play a pivotal role in enterprise creation and the promotion of sustainable livelihoods. To start with, a rigorous participatory rural appraisal was conducted, whereby field staff studied the socio-economic attributes and aspirations of the people and also identified households in dire need of financial assistance. Also, ‘resource mapping’ was carried out to factor in community resources and linkages with banks, hospitals, and government organisations.

Hand in Hand India engaged with local stakeholders - the community and local government departments’ right from the start of its work. Engaging with local stakeholders right from the planning stage has helped create community buy-in that has served local interests while promoting ease of work. The processes and systems so evolved will help the local community to eventually take over and manage, thus ensuring sustainability.

In 2012-13 with the project completing a year, Hand in Hand India had formed 321 SHGs with participation of 3,253 rural women covering 36 villages over 22 Gram Panchayats. In a backdrop of high rates of illiteracy among women, Hand in Hand India’s efforts has already enabled 125 women to learn how to sign their names.

In December 2012, Hand in Hand India launched the Nagrik Kendra, a Model Citizens’ Centre Enterprise to provide rural people access to governance related services through an information technology kiosk. Within a few months of its inception the Nagrik Kendra has already facilitated over 200 villagers to apply for Aadhar and PAN cards, government jobs and other welfare schemes. Hand in Hand has disbursed the loan amount of Rs.9,47,500to SHG women and facilitated creation of 132 enterprises. Hand in Hand has inculcated the savings habit among SHG women and, so far they have saved Rs.19.49lakhs in Banks.

The project continues to envisage leveraging the resources and assistance from other government sponsored programmes that are being implemented in Pali district, which leads to the empowerment of women.

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