Managing ones own destiny requires a degree of forward planning. But for rural
women having the required confidence, knowledge and funds to access banking institutions
or insurance facilities can feel out hopelessly out of reach. Grassroots through
Umang has encouraged women to form Self-Help Groups, generally a group of 15-20 neighbours
and friends who meet regularly to support each other on a financial and personal
basis. For many this is but the first step in building greater confidence and independence.
Each SHG also operates its own bank account, teaching members to save, and providing
low-interest small loans whenever needed. This gives women confidence to manage
their own affairs and critically liberates them from rapacious money lenders. More
recently some SHGs have purchased health insurance policies for their members.
The benefits of working together with neighbours is not restricted to women. Grassroots
is also encouraging small-scale farmers to form SHG collectives in the following
- Fruit Production
- Bee Keepering
- Free Range Poultry
- Spice Production
SHGs are the first step in women participating more widely within the local community.
Members have been elected as village leaders at the Village Development Council
or Panchayat Raj level.
Gita Mehta and Radha Sati are both SHG leaders. Click here to read more about their
experiences of SHGs.