Women Empowerment & Enterpreneurship

The average living condition for women in Southern Rajasthan is very poor. Women have little if any representation or freedom in society. Since its inception MSS has recognised that the socio-economic and cultural status of women in the area frequently dehumanises them, and for this reason women’s empowerment has always been one of the organisation’s top priority issues. MSS believes that there are three pillars to women’s empowerment: participation in the community, personal security and a positive self-image. It is only through establishing all three pillars that women’s empowerment can become a sustainable movement.

Self Help Groups

An SHG is a village-based financial group usually composed of 10-15 local women. Members make small, regular savings contributions to the group, which can then be used to provide loans to group members. These SHGs play a vital role in the field of social development, providing a forum in which women can come together, take out loans, improve their standard of living and become financially independent.

A systematic approach has been introduced to MSS’s SHGs through implementing child-centred activities and income generational activities such as alternative agriculture. Through their meetings we have identified problems and discussed solutions, such as agricultural problems, the need to identify school dropouts and working with children with disabilities. Members have visited each other’s fields and enterprises in order to learn and share new methods and ideas.

Capacity building programmes are organised for all SHG members, including on topics such as savings and credit, record keeping, accounting and linkages with the Rajasthan Rural Livelihoods Project (RRLP). Exposure visits are also held to various other SHGs in order for members to witness income generating activities that other SHGs have set up. Finally, training and advice is provided to SHG members on MGNREGA, including how to register for the scheme, what it entails and the kind of work that is undertaken.

Dhan Laxmi Women’s Federation

Case Study – SHG Loan

Empowerment of Rural Women through Handicrafts

By initiating artisan SHGs in Jhadol, Kotra and Dungarpur, MSS is enabling women artisans to expand their livelihoods and bring security to their families in terms of health, education, finance and social status. The project aims to improve income levels and provide education and training for these women.

Women artisans are provided with Artisan Identity Cards issued from the Development Commissioner. Artisans attend many exhibitions and melas (fairs) in places such as Shirohi, Delhi, Chandigarh and Bhopal. During these events, they display their work and sell products to various customers. MSS also holds training programmes to help artisans build on and improve their skills. Such programmes explore possible new designs and concepts, along with improved production techniques, and better equipment and raw materials.

MSS is working to create a new for-profit entity that will support the work of rural artisans through creating a permanent space to sell their handicrafts. This will consist of a website, with long-term plans to open a shop within Udaipur. Examples of some of the products that are available can be seen here.