“Kerala’s women empowerment and poverty alleviation programmes based on micro-credit system are unique models that should be emulated by various developing countries, says Geraldine Joslyn Fraser-Moleketi, Practice Director of Democratic Governance Group of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and former Minister for Public Service and Administration in South Africa.
This new paradigm of development emerging in the `God’s Own Country’ should be documented well, adds Ms. Fraser-Moleketi.
Ms. Fraser-Moleketi, accompanied by John Samuel, head of Global Programme Governance Assessments of UNDP, was talking to The Hindu during her brief visit to Bodhigram Centre at Thuvayur near Adoor on Saturday.
The 52-year-old South African leader was thrilled to have a feel of the social progress achieved through the programme. She had an open interaction with nearly 100 Kudumbasree Mission workers and local body members in the small hamlet of Thuvayur on her way to Kochi in the forenoon.
The women in the village shared their experiences with the South African leader.
Sasikala, a middle-aged Kudumbasree activist, said the Kadambanad panchayat alone houses as many as 203 Kudumbasree units (20 members each) while the State as a whole has got more than two lakh such units.
The women said it was the neighbourhood groups that had helped them to become independent, self-confident and earning members of the family.
Ms. Fraser-Moleketi said it was great that the programme also taught them the dignity of labour and importance of collective women’s movement.
The Kudumbasree workers said harassment of women at various households belonging to the below-poverty-line category too have come down considerably with the advent of the empowerment programme. “We learned a lot of good things from Kudumbasree,’’ said a middle-aged worker.
Ms. Fraser-Moleketi said it was a great thing that the national rural employment programme provided guaranteed job to these poor village womenfolk and the micro-credit system helped them to cultivate saving habit.
“This is a truly civil society women’s movement that seldom permits cheating of the gender sex. Women who were regarded as voiceless and powerless have started identifying their inner strength, opportunities for growth, and their role in reshaping their own destiny. Kerala can be proud of it,’’ said Ms. Fraser-Moleketi.
“Previously, we used to learn things from the West and now, it’s time for the West to learn many things from countries like India and South Africa,’’ she added.
Ms Fraser-Moleketi was all praise for the 24 X 7 webcast of Kerala Chief Minister’s office, adding that nowhere in the world one could see such a transparent, democratic system.