The objectives of Women Self Help Groups are to conduct regular meetings, promote savings and internal lending among its members and inculcate the practice of collective and democratic decision making.Women Empowerment is a comprehensive and much debated issue, and it is a dynamic, multi-dimensional process, which intends to enable women to realize their all powers and potential in all spheres of life. All over the world there is a realization that the best way to tackle poverty and enable the community to improve its quality of life is through social mobilization of poor, especially women into self help groups. Ever since independence a number of innovative schemes have been launched for the upliftment of women in our country. ISSAI TRUST is taking lot of initiatives to strengthen the institutional rural credit system and development programmes. ISSAI TRUST adopted the approach of Self Help Groups (SHGs) to uplift the rural poor women.
The empowerment of women through Self Help Groups (SHGs) would lead to benefits not only to the individual woman and women groups but also the families and community as a whole through collective action for development. Issai Trust has Promoted 252 Women Self Help groups and 98 JLGs in the backward villages with the membership of 3220. Micro-credit for income generation activities ( for farm sector and non farm sector ) through revolving the savings of the women groups (183)and establish links with the local banks for credit(198.20Lakhs). Necessary Capacity building Training to the members on group management, Financial Management and book keeping were conducted.
The purpose of forming women groups is not focus on economical development alone rather - The social empowerment . It means that the woman should get an important place in her family and society, and should have a right to enable her to make use of available resources. It has resulted in developing self-confidence, self-esteem and self-respect also. And uplift the living conditions of the poor household women’s. As the woman has now increased presence in banks, Gram Panchayats, various Government committees etc., her social status is seen somewhat elevated. The social impact of the SHG program increased involvement in Decision-making, awareness about various programs and organizations, increased access to such organizations, increased expenditure on Health and Marriage events, there is a Change in the attitude of male members of the families, now they are convinced about the concept of SHG and encourage women to participate in the meetings and women reported that they have savings in their name and it gives them confidence and increased self-respect.Through the formation of Women Self Help Groups, ISSAI TRUST has taken the following income generation activities that these women get sustainable income for their survival and development of their families. Our interventions promotes group members and individual woman.
1. Honey Collection and Marketing
2. Organic Food Materials collection and Marketing
3. Organic Food Materials collection and Marketing
4. Micro Enterprise
One of the traditional work by a group of families in Malapatty village is to collect honey. Men and women travel in the whole day for honey collection around 20 – 25 KMs in a day in the forest. By their skill they trace the honey bee by their naked eye and following the bees they identify the honey heaves.Unlike other honey varieties, raw forest honey is loaded with a high level of enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, healing agents and functions as a super-food. They collect variety of honey that include “Kombu Thene, Ponthu Thene, Addukku Thene and Kosu thene”. These people collect the honey and sell to a agent in Vedasandur and the price is fixed by him. Knowing the situation, ISSAI TRUST organised the women from the hhoney collectors families and formed them into a Women Self Help Group. Mrs. Sngammal, the president of the group collect the honey and sell the same into direct market as organised by ISSAI TRUST.
Earlier they have been selling honey for Rs. 300 per litter and they have to travel to Vedesandur for selling. Now the honey is collected from their place and they are given Rs. 360 per litter. 12 women directly involved and they collect 50 litters per month and they get Rs. 3000 as regular income.
Now the women are also given three days training on honey collection and installation of honey heaves at their own place by ISSAI TRUST. Among the honey collected, one of the variety, the kumbu thene has more demand in the market and the buyers buy with the honey heaves. This variety alone soled for Rs. 800 per litter as it has more medicinal benefits.
The major source of income for the 84% of the people in the Malapatty village is agriculture and allied works. They cultivate food crops such as paddy, millets and vegetables. ISSAI TRUST has conducted four training programmes on organic forming through women farmers and reduced the use of fertilizers and chemicals. The women farmers are also prepare dry vegetables as part of their work. The dry vegetables could be used for long time for preparing food items and it has high demand at Ayyalur market.
Village festivals are special and every event celebrated with the community participation. The festivals include temple worship, marriages, ear boring and funeral ceremony for a diseased person. Every celebration mark the day by providing common food. For a celebration there are 200 – 300 people are expected and provided food.To cook the food items, the celebrant family needed cooking materials and other decoration materials. It is practice they take for rent these materials either from Vadamurai or Iyyalur. By the effort of ISSAI TRUST, one women group has been formed under the leadership of Uma Maheswari and procured all needed materials by their credit and saving linkage with the Bank in Vadamadurai. 12 women from these group obtained credit for Rs. 1, 50, 000/- and established “Rental Catering Materials Unit”. Now they give these materials for rent to the village people and share the profit among them. At present they have repaid 80% of their credit. The effort goes sustainably for with the income for these group members. The unit has materials such as cooking vassals, Tables and chairs, sitting mattress, Gas cylinders, decoration materials. They have the fixed rate for each item for a day usage. The unit not only brings profit for the groups also makes convenient for the village people not to travel to nearby town.
As the women group activities are successfully going on, ISSAI TRUST has taken effort to support some of the individual women to take up micro business activities. Last month Ms. Poongodi, one of the members of Women Self Help Group has been supported to get bank loan for Rs. 60, 000 to established petty shop at Malapatty for selling vegetables and groceries. Now she too prepare homely masala power and sell in the same shop for affordable price. She has the plan to start selling instant flavour for preparing food items such as itly and dosai.