Women SHGs have emerged as vibrant community institutions of the poor

  • First, thanks to the intensive processes of developing social capital under the DAY-NRLM, women’s SHGs and their federations have emerged as vibrant community institutions of the poor. They have expanded their mandate from following only the Panchasutra of good savings and borrowing to Dasasutra that encompasses access to public services, education, health and well-being of poor households.
  • Second, the community resource persons (CRPs) are the biggest strength of this movement. Over 2.5 lakh women CRPs, who have come out of poverty, have been setting up women’s collectives across the country, and enabling the last-mile delivery of livelihoods extension and financial services to rural poor households.
  • Third, women SHGs and panchayat leaders are trying to find more meaningful solutions to the challenges of development. The women SHGs are involved in gram sabha meetings and in developing gram panchayat development plans. Over one lakh SHG women have been trained to conduct social audit of programmes to improve accountability to the community.
  • Fourth, financial resources from all ongoing programmes in rural areas are now focused on villages with social capital of the DAY-NRLM women SHGs on a priority basis.
  • Fifth, opportunities for skilling and diversification of livelihoods are being provided through the skills programmes of the ministry of rural development and community-training institutions.
  • Sixth, credit linkage for these women SHGs are a priority, and a series of confidence-building measures have been undertaken to give banks the comfort that these women will not only borrow, but also return on time. The setting up of the community-based recovery mechanism (CBRM), positioning community resource persons (bank sakhis) to act as a bridge between community and the bank as well as positioning of more than 4,000 bank sakhis as Business Correspondent Agents (BCAs) has generated confidence for the DAY-NRLM system. The training of bank managers and efforts at financial literacy and skills also helped.
  • Seventh, pro-poor public welfare programmes have improved the asset base of many women SHGs. The DAY-NRLM women played a very important role in building a movement for better public services at the local level. This was seen most during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in 65,000 villages to guarantee seven very basic services for the deprived and in the POSHAN Abhiyan.
  • Eighth, the efforts at promoting innovative interventions in farm and non-farm livelihoods broke new grounds in leveraging social capital of the SHGs for sustained economic activity. The setting up of 11,426 custom hiring centres and 760 rural transport centres, managed by the SHGs, is an indication of the diversity of livelihood development and opportunities.