Rs.1,000-crore fund may be a boost for State’s Nirbhaya scheme

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s budget on Thursday might not have brought much cheer in general for Kerala, but two of his crucial announcements have the Kudumbasree and the Social Welfare Department here beaming.

The ‘women’s bank’ announced by Mr. Chidambaram, said Social Welfare Minister M.K. Muneer and Kudumbasree Executive Director K.B. Valsala Kumari, was a proposal already submitted by the State to the Union government a few months ago. It was proposed to be operated by Kudumbasree.

Nirbhaya scheme

As for Nirbhaya Fund, the State already had the Nirbhaya scheme in operation, aimed at combating violence against women and children, with a toll-free number —18004521400 — as well.

“We welcome wholeheartedly both these announcements, more so because we have already planned a women’s bank and had forwarded the proposal to the Centre. We hope these will boost our efforts to help women here. I am, in fact, planning to go to New Delhi with the Chief Minister soon after the State budget to submit projects of the Social Welfare Department and our efforts will be to garner maximum funds for our projects,” Dr. Muneer told The Hindu .

Ms. Valsala Kumari said the Kudumbasree proposal for a women’s bank envisaged an all-women governing board, with the women themselves to decide on the rate of interest and the sectors they would give priority to.

The proposal, submitted as part of the Kudumbasree’s plan of action for the next fiscal, was to have a bank ‘run by poor women for poor women.’ As for the State’s Nirbhaya scheme, the Rs.1,000-crore corpus fund announced by Mr. Chidambaram was expected to become a shot in the arm for Kudumbasree’s plans to expand its self-defence training programmes for women across the State. The training is currently being offered by a few of Kudumbasree’s Community Development Societies (CDSs), she said.

‘Watch the rates’

Other non-governmental organisations, including the Sakhi Resource Centre for Women, said the women’s bank of Mr. Chidambaram would not serve a greater purpose if it was just to dole out loans.

“Yes, it will be good if the interest rates are lesser than what are on offer currently. Otherwise, it will not be of much significance. As for Nirbhaya Fund, the impact will depend on how the scope and disbursal of funds are designed,” Regina G. of Sakhi said, adding that more could be said only after further details of both the proposals were available.

  • State already has a toll-free number under Nirbhaya

  • ‘Bank part of Kudumbasree plans for next fiscal’