Women belonging to Self Help Groups on the way to become Lakhpati

New Delhi: The Ministry of Rural Development has launched an initiative to make rural women lakhpatis associated with Self Help Groups (SHGs), with a greater focus on moving women into higher economic order. It aims to enable rural SHG women to earn at least Rs 1 lakh per year. To achieve this ambitious target, the Ministry plans to provide livelihood support to 2.5 crore rural SHG women in the next 2 years. A detailed advisory has been issued to the State Governments based on various models existing across the country. A stakeholder consultation workshop was organized with the States, BMGF (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and TRIF (Transformation Rural India Foundation) on 28 October 2021 for a specific discussion on the subject.

The discussion held on 28.10.2021 emphasized the importance of well-planned interventions to diversify the livelihood activities at household level from agriculture and allied activities to livestock, NTFP (Non-timber forest products) and other interventions through their convergence. So that there can be an annual income of one lakh rupees continuously. The importance of strengthening SHGs, VOs (Village Organisations) and CLFs (associations at the cluster level) to implement such interventions was also emphasized. Dedicated community workers of SHG members trained in various fields will help them achieve their goals. The role of civil society organizations, KVKs (Krishi Vigyan Kendras) and other players in the private market is crucial in this intervention. States were also advised to encourage and strengthen these partnerships.

National Rural Livelihoods Mission works on a fulfillment approach. So far 6768 blocks have been covered under this program with 7.7 crore women being included in 70 lakh SHGs. From providing initial capitalization support to SHGs, an assistance of about Rs 80 thousand crore is being given annually. Under this mission, poor women from different classes and castes join self-help groups and their associations, which provide financial, economic and social development services to their members to increase their income and quality of life.

This money borrowed by SHGs through bank capitalization assistance over the years is now being used to create diversified livelihood opportunities. While these efforts are showing positive changes, it is felt that to ensure sustainable livelihood and dignified life of women SHG members i.e. to ensure their income of at least Rs. 1,00,000 per year to make them millionaires. It requires a concerted effort. This figure of Rs 1 lakh is both aspirational and inspirational for rural SHG women.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana is a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Rural Development that organizes the rural poor into self-governing institutions with a focus on capacity building and creating diversified livelihood opportunities for rural poor women. The Mission has made successful progress through the Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Project and focused on the role of women as farmers. Moving beyond the stage of community mobilization and building women’s institutions, the focus is now on involving SHG women in higher order economic activities through producer groups, FPOs and producer companies.