Empowerment of Rural Women
The issues concerning rural development are largely centered on the iniquitous income, lack of opportunities and poor access of modern techniques to its populace. Arpana believes that sustainable livelihood is the pre-requisite for a dignified and better tomorrow and understanding the livelihood systems of the poor is crucial to effective poverty reduction.
Arpana's Goal: To enable and empower women from marginalized communities to secure fundamental rights, increased incomes, and healthier families.
Arpana’s target area is mainly consists of landless laborers and marginalized farmers (with landholdings between ½ to 3 acres). This segment constitutes up to 40% of the target villages. It is with rural women from these sections that Arpana engages. Poverty, lack of education, lack of information, lack of opportunities and lack of resources keep them captive. It is a captivity enhanced by patriarchic social norms that discourage and deny the active participation of women in civic life. Thus, despite national laws and policies that promote women’s roles in governance, the participation of women in local governance is very low. Arpana promotes livelihood through the programmers such as formation of self help groups and their linkage with banks, and through imparting practice oriented knowledge and skill on livelihood promotion to women and farmer entrepreneurs.
The difference that Arpana makes
A Self Help Group (SHG) is an informal association of 10 to 20 poor women belonging to the same village and sharing a common socio-economic background. This approach combines access to low-cost financial services with a process of self management and development for the women who are SHG members. SHGs enable women to grow their savings and to access the credit which banks are increasingly willing to lend. SHGs are also community platforms from which women become active in village affairs, stand for local election or take action to address social or community issues (the abuse of women, alcohol, the dowry system, schools, and water supply etc).
Arpana has formed about 980 women’s SHGs, which have brought about an incredible enhancement of women's self esteem, confidence and social recognition in the family and community in the 234 disadvantaged villages of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, and in the slum resettlement colonies of Molar Bund, New Delhi.
Over 4,700 SHG members have taken loans for their small businesses. These SHGs have also formed two strong federations which give voices to their problems at local level.