While more women are increasingly carving a space in businesses, several challenges remain
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic derailed several growth initiatives in India. Women-run self-help groups (SHG) from the backward districts of India, however, fought mightily: They manufactured essential medical products such as masks, sanitisers, protective equipment and ran community kitchens, provided financial support to the vulnerable and communities.
The World Bank gave $750 million in financial support to National Rural Livelihoods Mission, which has been doing remarkable work by eliminating poverty gaps in rural India, according to report dated April 11, 2020.
The initiative has also motivated SHGs to fight against gender discrimination in rural India. As many as 67 million Indian women are members in six million SHGs, according to the report.
SHGs in COVID-19 climate
The said report underlined that despite COVID-19-induced difficulties and socio-political pressure, women-run SHGs successfully established social well-being in their communities.
The government of India announced financial support to over 0.4 million SHGs through Rs 1,625 crore in funds August 12, 2021. The funding was given under the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) programme.
The central government has provided financial support to Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PMFME) and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) as well. Government initiatives have also encouraged women citizens to have a bank account, which has made it easier to procure loans for SHGs. SHGs, in turn, have shown satisfactory results by bringing down banks’ non-performing assets.
New reforms, according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have been incorporated in the sustainable development model by creating self-reliant economy and inspiring women to explore the global market.
While more women are increasingly carving a space in such business, several challenges remain. We observed that despite scopes and capability, some SHGs are unable to develop into full-fledged organisations because of the following reasons:
Road map for the next phase
Women-run SHGs form the backbone of our country. A policy should be designed and implemented to support their activities so that they can sustain their livelihoods.
But policies are not well-defined for SHGs. Women face several roadblocks compounded by traditional malpractices that hold them back from participating with confidence in all aspects of business.
To alleviate these problems, the following should be implemented:
The government needs to listen to women; they don’t need only money, but institutional support to fully exploit their potential.
A multidisciplinary committee should be instituted to improve the condition of women SHGs in India. A mentorship programme may guide SHGs to survive in the hard, competitive market.
Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth
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