Women in Alwar
Alwar is a semi-arid region in Rajasthan that has suffered a water crisis owing to water depletion and a decrease in annual rainfall. Despite the fluctuating climatic condition in Rajasthan, agricultural activities have predominantly been practised in rural areas, offering great opportunities for women to be employed. Studies have shown that Alwar is a region where gender inequality, sexual and gender-based violence is predominant. Due to these social vices, women are not only denied opportunities for employment but also opportunities to acquire land or assets. It has been shown that women constitute about (48.14%) half of the total population in Rajasthan, and they play a significant role in the state of the economy. Around 77% of total rural female workers and 18% of total urban female workers are employed as cultivators and agricultural labourers, with minimal wages and suboptimal working conditions owing to poor climatic conditions. Rural women are mostly engaged in agriculture and allied works, allowing them to easily fulfil their household responsibility. But due to increased urbanization, decreased farmland, and unprecedented climatic changes, the marginalized farmers are unable to generate sufficient income for their families through agriculture.
SHGs Self Help Groups
SPECTRA in association with Letz Dream Foundation through the “Integrated Livelihood Development Program (ILDP)” in Alwar District of Rajasthan brought a host of interventions through Self Help Groups (SHGs). We formed 194 SHGs that benefitted 2117 members. These SHGs were introduced to financial programmes, capacity-building sessions, and entrepreneurial activities.
Financial integrations of savings, inter-loan and bank linkages were woven through these SHGs. About 94 households were linked to bank accounts as part of these financial schemes.
A total of 303 training and capacity-building sessions were organized on various themes such as group management, financial management, gender, leadership and business planning, agriculture, livestock, and goat farming. With the help of this training, members of the SHGs have established businesses like goat farming, cosmetic shops, and confectionery shops. Simultaneously, Institutional collaborations conducting camps, introducing self-sustaining farming through kitchen gardens, Azolla units, System of Rice Intensification (SRI), and construction & renovation of Water Reserves have been conducted. Awareness camps on covid19 have also been conducted as part of livelihood development through SHGs.
Sarifan, the resident of Karauli village, is one of the seven children (4 brothers and 3 sisters) of her father, Hakmuddin Khan, who is a farmer. Poor economic conditions deprived the family of having 2 square meals. Sarifan married Rahmuddin khan, who lives in Baylabas in the Ratakhurd Panchayat. She had six children of her own, amidst increasing economic stress and expenses while working as a daily wage labourer for a living along with her marital family. Market inflation caused Sariphan to borrow money incurring heavy debts and she wished for an opportunity to get relief from this financial burden. When the SPECTRA team visited their block to create awareness on SHG formation, process, and benefits for households, she immediately joined the community meetings to learn the nuances of group engagement and small savings schemes.
Under the guidance of SPECTRA, in May 2014, 13 groups consisting of women were formed that began to conduct meetings that Sariphan attended. Within a few days, savings started to accumulate which helped her to meet her family’s needs. Apart from this, she was also involved in other training sessions organized by SPECTRA on group management, leadership development, financial management, animal management, Azolla and vermicompost establishment, cornerstone, and entrepreneurship development. Sariphan also participated in exposure through a site visit to learn best agricultural practices.
Sariphan the Goat Breeder
In 2014, SPECTRA gifted a totapuri breed goat to Sariphan and offered her responsibilities in distributing this same breed to other members of SHGs. This breed of a goat after reproducing were sold at festive occasions like EID-UL-ZUHA in Jaipur, Delhi, Gujarat, and Mumbai. With SPECTRA’s support, her SHG group received a loan amount of INR 110000. Members of the group started to invest in animal management, purchase fodder, establish Azolla units and fulfil their basic needs.
Sariphan the Shareholder
From May 2014 till now, Sariphan has earned 22,49,000 rupees through goat rearing alone. With this development, she has been able to manage her family and pay off all outstanding debts. Sariphan went on to become a shareholder of SPECTRA farmer producer company “SPECTRA ADARSH UTPADAK MAHILA PRODUCER COMPANY”. She is also involved in market activities like spice making, fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, besides goat rearing.
Sariphan is a perfect example of how through SHGs work for the entire group’s emancipation with profits equally distributed among group members. SPECTRA’s SHG formation and its activities give a ray of hope to many more women like Sariphan, bringing a revolution in communities through self-dependence, self-resilience, and self-employment. SHGs are institutions that bring social change in rural areas and have achieved SDG goals like poverty elevation, quality education, sustainable communities, and gender equity. The rural women of Ratakhurd Gram Panchayat, are proud, economically independent and hard-working women that believed in their own abilities above and beyond all else.
Author, Shri. Pradeep Singh Pundhir, is the Founder of SOCIETY FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION, CULTURAL TRAINING & RURAL ACTION, (SPECTRA), Alwar, Rajasthan, India. SPECTRA is also a participant through SABERA 2021 in the Enablement (Sashaktikaran category) under the Initiative Awards.
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