Federation set up for women’s empowerment

Special Correspondent

Aim: to bring changes in their mobility and social interaction

To function as micro-credit institution

Headquarters will be in Chennai

NAGAPATTINAM: A women’s empowerment project, initiated and implemented by Development Promotion Group (DPG), a Chennai-based non-governmental organisation, has contributed to the growth of 2,349 self-help groups consisting of 35,948 members, according to its chief executive officer R. Bhakther Solomon. The DPG, in partnership with 13 other NGOs, is implementing tsunami relief and rehabilitation works in the State.

Inaugurating the Nagapattinam chapter of DPG’s Rose Malar Women’s Federation, a State-level women’s federation, at Velankanni on Friday, Mr. Solomon said the organisation had spent more than Rs.18 crore for tsunami rehabilitation works, including construction of permanent houses, in Nagapattinam and Tuticorin districts. The DPG’s core mechanism was the formation of women’s self-help groups and cluster-level and area-level federations. The community-based federations (CBFs) were set up with both financial (savings and lending) and community action as working capital. Till date, the SHGs had saved Rs.11.20 crore and made an internal lending of Rs.4.06 crore utilising the savings. Besides, they got assistance through banks as linkage fund to take up socio-economic activities to improve their livelihood.

The federation would now be registered either under the Co-operative Societies Act as a micro-credit institution or as a non-banking financial corporation with Chennai as its headquarters. It aimed at bringing changes in women’s mobility and social interaction, labour patterns, access to and control over resources and control over decision-making.

Mr. Solomon said 179 SHGs were set up for tsunami victims and they were provided Rs.1 crore as micro-finance support. Thirty-six groups (both men and women) with 653 members were formed in Vilunthamavadi, Kameshwaram, Vanavanmahadevi and Vellappallam in the district till August this year. The groups received Rs.80 lakh as micro finance support.

The DPG intended to provide capacitation and micro-finance support to the newly formed federation and through this to the women members. In traditional societies, women’s empowerment does not occur easily or overnight. In DPG’s working areas, there was evidence of a change, to which the project had apparently contributed.

Juliet Arputharaj, Chairperson of Velankanni Town Panchayat, and Augustine Ponraj, Project Director, DPG, Velankanni, were among those who spoke. About 600 SHG members from four fishing villages took part. Each SHG paid Rs.500 as membership fee and joined the federation.

At a day-long training programme, Sarojini Pudhiyavan, gender specialist from Dindigul, stressed the need for women to come together and take up joint enterprises based on market feasibility studies.

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