CUTS Centre for Human Development has worked on self-Help Group formation since 1998 under rural women empowerment project. Continuing its effort to empower women, self-help group formation and bank linkage (SHG-BLP) project was started in the year 2004 with supported national bank for agriculture and rural development (NABARD). The project is target mainly Above Poverty Line (APL) families.
- organising village women and give them a platform to discuss their problems;
- establishing a mechanism for permanently evaluating the poverty level of the micro-finance programme clients;
- creating opportunities for people for regular jobs;
- availability of jobs locally;
- ensuring economic security;
- empowering village women;
- empowering weaker sections;
- checking migration;
- promoting water and environmental conservation;
- ensuring access to basic services.
- Long-term Objectives
- providing opportunities to working villagers to lead a respectable life;
- generating productive assets;
- ensuring social audit;
- protecting the environment;
- fostering social equity;
- ensuring social security;
- holistic development of villages;
- Rural empowerment and enhanced participation in decision-making process.
- Village panchayat members;
- Community and religious leaders;
- Village-level institutions;
- Members of SHGs;
- Local leaders;
- Youth clubs;
- NGO workers
- Government officials.
- Health workers – dias and anganwari workers
- Local businessmen.
- Backward class people
- Unemployed youths
- Government officials;
- Political parties;
- Village-level institutions
- Local business men selling food and daily-use articles.
- Staff orientation programmewas conducted on group dynamics and concept of SHGs for new staff, which was conducted by experienced CUTS CHD trainers.
- For mobilising women and other villagers, street plays were performed. The help of village elders have been taken for environment conservation activities. Subsequently, chaupal and gram baithaks also conducted and TV and video movies showed on successful case studies on SHGs to encourage them for forming SHGs at their own level. Simultaneously, members with leadership qualities also identified.
- One Refresher Training programmes were organized of the SHG leaders.
- Training programmeswere organised by key members of CHD staff, independent and external experts on the meaning of SHG, the need for savings, group solidarity and book-keeping.
- SHGs meetings were organized on monthly basis. The CHD staff and its net workers have undertaken subsequent monitoring and supervision for sustainability of groups. SHGs were linked then with the local financial institutions.
- Assessment was done time to time to analyses the impact of the intervention measures.
- Each groups have provided three registers, member and meeting register, savings and credit register and individual savings pass book.
- Follow-ups of the project intervention were done through chaupal and gram baithaks, each month.
- Documentation has tobe a continuous and on-going process. Project interventions, learning and actions for sustainability regularly recorded.
- All SHGs have linkage with banks.
- SHG members demanded their rights and entitlements. Womenraised their voice for village development up to DistrictHeadquarter. SHG movement has provided a platform to therural women to discuss and create plans for the developmentof their village. District collector went to Ochhari village toobserve their genuine problems and promised to resolve them.
- It has let women identify and nurture their hidden skills andpowers and at the same time has brought a boost in theirconfidence levels and communication skills. The women, whonever come out from their houses, have started visiting banksand communicating on their own. It has given power to thewomen to protest together against social evils prevalent in thesociety.
- Women have started believing in themselves and begununderstanding that it is only they who can do their own welfare After joining SHGs, the women have started supporting theirfamilies economically.
- Earlier, women use to avail loans on high interest rates. Afterintroducing SHG process for loaning, the women understoodthe concept of interest rate, principal amount etc. It has reducedthe transaction costs for lenders as well as borrowers and freedits members from the grip of moneylenders.
- The women became so empowered that they do not feelhesitated in expressing themselves. Through understanding theleadership concept in SHGs, women have been involvedthemselves in the decision making process and started leading their family. It has developed their leadership skills/abilities and at the same time empowered them.
- The women understood the importance of education and started furnishing signatures in place of thumb impressions.
- In daily life, the project locations have recorded increased participation of women in the gram sabhas and at public hearings. SHGs have sent their members to meet departmental officials regarding better functioning of the public distribution system, anganwadi, health facilities, electricity supply, jobs under MGNREGA and even corruption by lower level functionaries. Many a times, these are thankless exercises and demotivating, but women keep their spirits high with the help of groups. Violence against women is also being recognized and addressed. Many women have been trained as para-legal workers.
- SHGs are also addressing broader areas of discrimination and ensuring that all girls should attend school. They regularly discuss equal work division between boys and girls at home, increase in marriageable age for girls, nutrition for pregnant women, alcoholism, domestic violence, rape and witch-hunt.
- Women SHG leaders meet with government officials to make them aware of problems faced by them. This is helping change perceptions slowly but gradually. The women have started seeing SHGs as a space of solidarity and support. They insist the meetings also discuss personal problems faced by members, along with plans for savings and credit. They now have a greater sense of ownership in the group and are also taking their first step into defying stereotypes and challenging male perceptions of women.
Project location, time schedule& Target
CUTS Centre for Human Development has been successfully completed four projects and one is to be complete in two districts. Detailed below-
The overall objective of the project is to ensure socio-economic development and enhance livelihood security in rural areas.
Stakeholders in the Programme
One block officer appointed at block level and two supervisors were leading the project at the district level in Chittorgarh and Bhilwara. The overall supervision of the project was done by the project head from CUTS CHD office based at Chittorgarh. There was one animator in each panchayat and 80 percent of these animators were women.
CUTS Centre for Human Developmenthas adopted certain methodologies for sustainable functioning of groups. The broad activities were as follows: