Women and empowerment

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It’s not that credit does not create impact in the lives of women, in fact for many it’s a boon, especially independent farmers and entrepreneurs. Similarly, income in the hands of women does have an impact on the confidence of women. But access to income and credit is a step towards realising equality. It alone is not a sufficient condition for empowerment. Nevertheless most of our programmes revolve around these two aspects without hitting the social structures we are in.Another short sighted view is that empowerment is largely treated as an end goal in itself. It generally leads to a frail strategy where creating one kind of benefit-driven programme is thought to be empowering. Hence in most cases, policy makers and workers consider affirmative action as empowering for women.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), launched in 2016 by the Government of India, is one of the best examples. No doubt, PMUY if implemented in a proper way may reduce the burden of thousands of women and children engaged in collecting firewood. But has it created any change in gender relations at home? The answer is a blunt ‘no’.

a Credit and empowerment

The model of extending small credits to women’s groups without collateral boosted the SHG movement in India, which has been appropriated by NRLM. Over a period of time, there has been an attempt to establish connection between access to credit and empowerment for rural women.