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(Fr. Regimon Philip)
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Despite many international agreements affirming their human rights, women are still much more likely than men to be poor, malnourished and illiterate. They usually have less access than men to medical care, property ownership, credit, training and employment. They are far less likely than men to be politically active and far more likely to be victims of domestic violence.


Key Issues :

Economic empowerment: More women than men live in poverty. Economic disparities persist partly because much of the unpaid work within families and communities falls on the shoulders of women and because they face discrimination in the economic sphere.

Educational empowerment: About two thirds of the illiterate adults in the world are female. Higher levels of women's education are strongly associated with both lower infant mortality and lower fertility, as well as with higher levels of education and economic opportunity for their children.

Political empowerment: Social and legal institutions still do not guarantee women equality in basic legal and human rights, in access to or control of land or other resources, in employment and earning, and social and political participation. Laws against domestic violence are often not enforced on behalf of women.
Experience has shown that addressing women’s empowerment requires strategic interventions at all levels.
Our Interventions :

One of the interventions is Micro Credit:
Micro credit in India hinges on four pillars i.e. micro saving, inter loaning, micro enterprise and micro insurance. The whole micro credit system has led to empower women to a great extent and initiate small enterprises like dairy, poultry, honey production, seed production, Milk Processing, vermi composit etc. and small cottage industries at the rural level besides, meeting out social and personal expenses. Therefore in our Integrated Community Development with special focus on Empowerment of women and girl children we give more emohasis to micro saving, inter loaning, micro enterprise and micro insurance. In this we give more importance to formation and linkages of SHGs. We form SHGs and link it with the banks.

Our Experience over the years shows that participatory micro-credit system is one of the best way by which micro saving, inter loaning, etc. can be successfully performed by the SHG members. We provide motivation for SHG formation. Thus, we help in the formation of social capital and strengthen their economic activities. A Self Help Group (SHG) is a small economically homogeneous and affinity group of rural poor generally not exceeding 20 members voluntarily coming together

To save small amounts regularly;

To mutually agree to contribute to a common fund;

To meet their emergency needs;

To have collective decision-making;

To solve conflicts through collective leadership and mutual discussion.

To provide collateral free loans with terms decided by the group at market driven rates for productive as well as non productive work.
Components of participatory micro-credit :
The components of participatory micro-credit include micro saving, micro-finance/inter loaning, micro-enterprise and micro insurance. Micro finance has emerged as one of the most sustainable and effective tools for enabling the poor and disadvantaged sections of the society to excess institutional credit.
  The Role of SHGs in micro saving, credit appraisal, monitoring and recovery of loans.  
Contribution by individuals to group saving :  
The saving forms an important component of the functioning of the SHGs. It is the basic idea upon which the whole concept of economic empowerment of weaker section persons is conceptualized.
Inter-loaning among the members :  
Inter-loaning was the key component of micro credit system. Inter loaning process became possible through SHG formation. Inter loaning helps SHG members in the following way -it decreases the ill effects of borrowing from money lenders, easier and quick to obtain loan from their group, gives better freedom of spending to members specially women, helps to start micro enterprises for economic viability and also increases the belief on the concept of SHGs.
Micro enterprises :
Micro enterprise was an activity based work started by SHG members for their betterment. The economic viability of an enterprise is the first condition for the success of particular enterprise. Micro enterprises are the mainstay for sustaining the SHGs. In the study area several micro enterprises were running. In district Farrukhabad and Kanpur Nagar, many agro based allied activities/enterprises were being adopted by SHG members. Among these enterprises dairy farming, bee keeping, vegetable seed production were most prevalent in both the districts due to better opportunities of income and marketing of the products.
Formation of self help groups improves the feeling of security, recognition in society and easier and quicker internal loaning. These three points are very important for development of poor.
It also showed greater improvement in socio-economic conditions of group members. The other important perceptions revealed were enhanced knowledge level about how to get things done in public life, decreased ill effects of borrowing from money lenders, desire to work more, save more and improve the standard of living, intensity of desire to earn more money and increase in the sphere of contact from public and private, taking up more responsibilities in public life, added strength, and communication skill and marketing techniques.

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