Bridging the chasm of India’s wide gender gap is increasingly gaining importance in the country’s developmental strategies, with a greater number of NGOs and government organizations putting women at the centre of their projects. A key component of many of these strategies is building the capacity of women in financial self-management which will enable the creation of an environment where women can make independent decisions on their personal development as well as shine as equals in society.
In recent years, the government has extensively promoted the formation of Self Help Groups or SHGs as platforms to enable micro-credit options for the economically disadvantaged. Comprised primarily of women, an SHG is, in essence, a credit and savings group: each member regularly contributes a fixed, small amount of money until enough capital is built within the SHG to begin lending. The group then collectively decides which members should be lent money, based on the needs of each member. Repayment, at a predetermined interest rate, is ensured through peer pressure. Through the years, SHGs have evolved into more than just community-driven institutions of micro-credit; they have also been crucial to mobilizing women’s empowerment activities at the grassroots level. Volunteers will work extensively with SHGs and other women’s groups to implement capacity building initiatives in their communities. Some of the activities they will be involved in include:
•Building capacity in computer literacy
•Raising awareness on health and hygiene
•Promoting entrepreneurial initiatives and income generation activities that increase family income
•Building the financial capacity of SHGs to actively manage their group, increase capital and fund entrepreneurial projects of their women members
The Info-sheet will have more information regarding the individual projects with schedules, and activities.