Women are the best change agents to touch the core poverty and are very important segment in development. In order to enhance the economic empowerment of women and ultimately economic development of the nation, the importance of utilization of female force has now been well recognized. Every possible effort is made to strengthen the status of women particularly those who are in rural areas. It is possible only through SELF HELP GROUPs (SHGs) and their collective activities and their economic empowerment is sought to be achieved.
In a male dominated society, the SC women are most oppressed among the oppressed. They are the people living outside the boundaries of village, away from civilization, education, religion and culture. SC women’s experience of patriarchal domination is qualitative, more severe than that of non-SC women. Therefore, the present study is an attempt to trace the status of Scheduled Castes women and their problems – social, economic, cultural – and their place in the society and analyze various schemes by the Central as well as the State Government of Andhra Pradesh to empower them.
EMPOWERMENT OF SC WOMEN THROUGH SELF HELP GROUPs IN ANDHRA PRADESH T. Narasimhulu
Asst.Professor. Dept. of Economics, Govt. Degree College, Nagari.
Poverty and unemployment are the major problems of any under development countries, to which india is no exemption. In india, a large number of people are living in below poverty line. Although alleviation of poverty and reduction of economic inequality has been a major issue since the advent of planning, the problem is still all the alarming level. Various schemes have been introduced to reduce poverty and to promote the gainful employment, in vain.
Women are the best change agents to touch the core poverty and are very important segment in development at essential to harness the women labor in the main stream of economic development. The status of women is a barometer of democratism of any state, an indicator of how human rights are respected in it. Hence it is necessary to bring positive change in women.
In order to enhance the economic empowerment of women and ultimately economic development of the nation, the importance of utilization of female force has now been well recognized. Every possible effort is made to strengthen the status of women particularly those who are in rural areas. It is possible only through SELF HELP GROUPs (SHGs) and their collective activities and their economic empowerment is sought to be achieved.
NEED FOR THE EMPOWERMENT OF SCHEDULED CASTE WOMEN
Two-thirds of world’s illiterates are women. Of the world’s 1.3 billion poor, nearly 70 per cent are women. Between 75-80 per cent of the world’s 2.7 million refugees are women and children. Only 24 women have been elected as heads of governments during the last century. Two-thirds of 130 million children all over the world, who are not in schools, are girls. In many countries, women work approximately twice the unpaid time men do. Rural women produce more than 55 per cent of all food grown in developing countries. The value of women’s unpaid house work and community work is estimated at 35 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) world-wide. HIV is increasingly affecting women. About 42 per cent of the estimated cases are those of women. Twenty million unsafe abortions are performed every year resulting in the deaths of 70,000 women. Keeping in view the above universal facts there is a greater need for the empowerment of women and the State is taking all the steps to emancipate the socio-economic conditions of women.
Rural women are subjected to many hindrances, which impose limitations on their potential. In general, rural women have low level literacy which affects their attitude towards social mobilization. Education liberates them from the clutches of ignorance and superstition. Besides attending to their routine household activities, rural women are involved in agricultural and allied activities like livestock rearing, food processing etc. In addition, they undertake poultry, animal husbandry, bee-keeping, tailoring besides construction labour, working in factories etc. However, agriculture is the main source of employment for a great majority of rural women. In recent years, mechanization of agriculture, application of new technology reduced the demand for labour. Inevitably this affects the employment chances of rural women.
The total population of India, according to 2011 census is 121.06 crore of whom SCs are 16.6 crore, constituting 16.20 per cent of the population of India. Of the total Scheduled Caste population of India, females constitute 80,546,940. Andhra Pradesh stands in the 12th place with 16.19 per cent of Scheduled Castes population.
In a male dominated society, the SC women are most oppressed among the oppressed. They are the people living outside the boundaries of village, away from civilization, education, religion and culture. SC women’s experience of patriarchal domination is qualitative, more severe than that of non-SC women.
Therefore, the present study is an attempt to trace the status of Scheduled Castes women and their problems – social, economic, cultural – and their place in the society and analyze various schemes by the Central as well as the State Government of Andhra Pradesh to empower them.
SELF HELP GROUPs
Self Help groups are the groups which have similar social identity. Heritage, Caste or traditional occupations and come together for a common cause and manage resources for benefits of the group members. These groups are considered as one of the most significant tools for economic empowerment of women. The basic objective of SHGs is that it, acts as the platform for members to provide space and support to each other. SHGs comprise very poor people who do not have access to formal financial institutions. SHGs enable its members to learn, to cooperate and work in a group environment.
In India, before introduce SHG Scheme for rural women, they were largely negligible. But in recent years, the most significant emerging system called “Self Help Group” is a major breakthrough in improving lives of women folk and alleviation of rural poverty. Women participation in Self Help Groups has obviously created tremendous impact upon the like pattern and style of poor women and has empowered them at various levels not only as individuals but also as members of the family, members of the community and the society as a whole. They came together for the purpose of solving their common problems through self help and mutual help.
The existence of women in the state of economic, political, social and knowledge disempowerment is known to be a major hindrance to economic development. Self help groups provides appropriate platform for economical empowerment and after this cultural, social, psychological and political empowerment. There are number of SHGs of women in villages or cities. Hence, to know the better benefit of it for empowerment of the women, it is necessary to know the impact of SHGs on empowerment of women.
Empowerment is a process of awareness and capacity building, landing to greater participation, to greater decision making power and control and to transformative action. Empowerment is a two way process in which we empowered and got empowered.
Women empowerment is comprehensive and much debated issues, it’s a dynamic and multidimensional process. Women in general are the most disadvantaged people in the rural regions of India, even though the women largely participate in economic activities, mainly agriculture sector, and other sectors in the economy.
SC WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
The goals of poverty eradication can be effectively achieved if SC women could be organized into groups for community participation as well as for assertion of their rights. Any strategy of sustainable developing relating to poverty eradication has to involve the large number of poor women. Social mobilization and building organization of the poor are essential pre requisites for poverty alleviation. There are several strategies, which enable the overall development of SC women.
Having been placed at the bottom of the caste-centered hierarchy, Scheduled Castes were the chief victims of exploitation and oppression at the hands of upper caste of land lords and the rich peasant class.
The present study hopefully fills up some of the gaps left by the studies on SC women and adds a useful analysis of rural SC women’s socio-economic emancipation to the literature on Scheduled Caste women in Indian Society.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
To analyze and evaluate the various scheme for Socio and Economic Empowerment of SC women living below the poverty line, particularly in rural areas.
SOCIO & ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF SC WOMEN THROUGH SELF HELP GROUPS IN ANDHRAPRADESH
The Government of Andhra Pradesh has taken up the theme of women’s empowerment as one of the strategies to tackle the socio-economic poverty. Self Help movement through savings has been taken up as a mass movement by women – a path chosen by them to shape their destiny for better. Development Agenda of the State in the last few years placing the people, especially women in the fore-front has enabled formation of a large number of Self Help Groups (SHGs) throughout the State and majority of woman are saving one rupee a day. The state government is consciously making an effort to assist SHGs by providing Revolving Fund / Matching grant under various programmes.
SHGs – A MOVEMENT IN ANDHRAPRADESH
There are about 10.55 lakh women SHGs in Andhra Pradesh covering a nearly 116.35 lakh poor women. 26.78 lakh are from SC category. Andhra Pradesh alone has about half of SHGs organized in the country. The SHGs are also popularly called DWCRA Groups, and this name became popular after the DWCRA programme (Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas) through which women’s groups were assisted initially. The SHGs are not only resorting to thrift but also taking small loans out of the corpus available with the group. The group corpus consists of savings, government assistance and also bank loan. Members use the loan out of group corpus for their personal needs initially. However in the long run such loans are utilized for income generation activities. Since inception an amount of Rs.4141.70 crores is mobilized as savings and Rs.5,720.66 crores as corpus by these groups.
MICRO CREDIT TO SHGs:
Micro credit summit conducted in 1997 in Washington resolved to reach 100 million poor women by 2005 all over the world. To reduce the financial burden on the self help groups, the A.P Govt. introduced “Pavala Vaddi” Scheme w.e.f, 01-07-2004 and a total of Rs. 1983.91 crores were reimbursed to 19,83,319 SHG Members.
The Govt. of A.P announced and improved incentive scheme for the SHGs repaying installment promptly from the present Pavalavaddi to 0% interest (Vaddileni Runalu) with effect from 01-01-2012. Under this scheme Rs. 656.84 crores were disbursed to 5,90,014 SHGs during 2012-13. 84,606 SHGs of SC women were provided Rs 1878.57 crores of loans through bank linkage during the year 2012-13.
In Andhra Pradesh alone 116.35 lakh women were covered under micro credit with a saving of a rupee per day and the financial institutions extending loans upto 4 times to the amount of group savings. From the year 1997 to January 2005, Banks extended a loan of Rs. 1017.7 crores to 2.61 SHGs which is Rs. 10651 crores to 4.42 SHGs in 2012-13 and the recovery of loans is more than 95%. Recently commercial banks have reduced interest rate on the loans extended to SHGs from 12% to 9%.
BUILDING INSTITUTIONS FOR SHGs:
Women’s savings movement started in 1993 as an off shoot of total literacy campaigns successfully conducted by the pro-active government initiatives in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh, poor women agitated sale of arrack, organized themselves into “Thrift and credit groups” with one rupee saving in a day had now turned into a mass movement in which 116.35 lakh members saved more than Rs.4141.70 crores which is rotated internally and lent amongst the members twice in a year as per the interest rates fixed by the groups. Such amounts are used for their daily consumption needs and also for production of goods for sales to earn incomes.
All the villages in the state have at least one SHG and 75% of the villages have 15-20 groups in each. Government felt the necessity of building institutions for SHG at the village and mandal level village organizations and mandal federations are formed and the latter are registered under the mutually aided co-operative societies Act 1995. There are 1098 mandal samakyas and 38,821 village organizations at present in Andhra Pradesh. Such federations take up functions like pensions to old people, insurance services to members, procurement of raw materials and marketing of finished products, accessing community infrastructure facilities, providing market information and other services to the members.
SOCIO ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF SHGs:
60% of the women take up economic activities related to agriculture and allied activities. Illiterate and unskilled women engage in small business activities. Nearly 20% of the SHG members are artisans and engaged in making handicrafts and handloom products
The Government of Andhra Pradesh has resolved 4.30 lakh cases related to land disputes of poor and created the accessibility of 8.76 lakh acres of land to the SHG members to enable every poorest of the poor family in the state, the state Government has established the sustainable livelihood opportunities with an aid of an intensive land holdings support.
40 lakh SC and ST PoP households out of which 27 lakh were SCs and 13 lakh were STs were covered under “Unnathi (Nirupedala Samgrabhivrudhi)” Strategy with the support of around 8015 community activists.
88,074 eligible but left over SC & ST women members were brought under SHG coverage with the formation of 7,630 SHGs under the Unnati Strategy.
To reduce Cost of cultivation and increase net income, Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) is encouraged by the State Government. 4,76,680 SC farmers out of 17,07,000 CMSA farmers got benefited under this programme.
The Govt. of AP has launched state Milk Mission which envisages the rearing of Milch animals in group mode which is called Pala Pragathi Kendram (PPK). 2141 PPKs were established in the state by benefiting 6111 SC SHG women out of 13,678 SHG members up to the march, 2013.
Employment Generation and Marketing Mission (EGMM) was set up to address the needs of the next generation of the large network of SHGs created and nurtured by IKP. 1,24,050 SHG women were shown placements of which 35,578 were SC women under this programme.
Under Social and Human Development value chain, 609 community managed family counseling centers are running by SHG women. SHG women are actively mobilized into V.O Social Action Committees in the villages to work on a social agenda and gender discrimination cases. 39,914 cases were resolved of 49750 cases up to march 2013 through these SHG women Committees.
SHGs are playing an important role in preventing infanticide in the rural village.
The Govt. of AP have introduced pension scheme Janashree Bheema Yogana (JBY) for the SHG women to provide income security in their old age and social security to all women SHG members to enable them to lead secure life with dignity in old age. 49.05 lakh SHG members out of which 11.15 lakh of members are SC SHG members are enrolled under this schemes. 5.12 lakh members out of which 0.85 lakh SC women SHG members were sanctioned pension under the scheme and receiving monthly pension amount of Rs 500 per month.
Public private partnership method is adopted in promoting economic opportunities to SHG members by appointing them as dealers for the sale of products manufactured by companies like TVS TTK Colgate Philips, etc.., Companies in return train SHGs in finance management Enterprise Development, Packaging, branding and pricing of products. This partnership is a win-win model.
Andhra Pradesh is now engaged in intense pursuit of development programs utilizing information technology (IT) and to strategize as to how the benefits of IT could be taken to rural areas.
SHGs are encouraged to get PC’s and software for assessing information and developing their business. Their products are photographed scanned and displayed on websites, these are put on the portals of E-commerce companies.
Handicrafts, Herbal medicines and cosmetics, hand woven and embroidered curtains, toys paintings etc.., are thus finding National and International markets this would have been possible , but for the internet. The members are enabled to take a mobile telephone and use it not only for sales but as a public telephone.
IMPACT OF SHG MOVEMENT ON SC WOMEN:
1. 98% of the members make savings regularly as the norms prescribed by the groups.
2. All the groups meet at least once at a month to discuss various social issues related to their day to day life.
3. 98% of the eligible persons adopt small family norms
4. 100% children of SHG members are able to access immunization services against their diseases.
5. 30% of the members are accessed to cooking fuels.(LPG) under the government promoted scheme popularly known as Deepam.
6. 80% of the total SHGs have accessed financial assistance from banks.
7. 98% of the total SHGs have repaid their loans to banks.
8. 46,758 (18.4) women members are elected to the local bodies in 2013 Gram Panchayat Elections.
9. Members are engaged in 450 varieties of income generating activities.
10. Additional family income to members range from Rs. 1000 to 3000 per month depending on the income generating activities.
11. Increase in self Confidence and self esteem.
12. Increase in Awareness levels about the society and community.
13. Voluntary participation in community activities like laying roads, planting trees conserving environment, construction of water harvesting structures, donations to the victims of nature calamities, helping to reduce crime against girls & women, campaign against eradication of social evils like dowry, child marriages, untouchability, AIDS, etc..,
SHG members are learning from the past experiences and walking through the present and marching ahead for a bright future. Government of Andhrapradesh has rightly realized that the involvement of the rural poor women in development will speed up attainment of Swayam Samruddi and realizing the vision needed.