Mission Shakti promotes female empowerment – The New Indian Express

Express press service

ODISHA: March 5, 2020 was a momentous day for the 10 members of Jay Maa Tulasi Women Self Help Group (SHG) from Binika in Sonepur district when they received Rs 5.29 lakh in their bank account. It was the first time they won in lakhs.

Two months later, they received Rs 5.94 lakh more for becoming the first women’s group to earn Rs 11.24 lakh from buying paddy during the kharif season. The SHG topped the state by pocketing a commission of Rs 24.32 lakh during the rabi season. The group bought 3,597 tons of paddy in Kharif and 7,784 tons during the rabi seasons. You understood well. SGH women in Odisha are now earning lakhs and reshaping their lives by actively participating in paddy sourcing, once considered a male bastion.

Unknown to the trade a few years ago, they have now become models for their counterparts in other states. Registered in 2008, the Tulasi SHG processed homemade semi-processed food items like badi, papad, and pickles in addition to tailoring and dressmaking items.

“Earnings never exceeded Rs 5000 at the time. Our group was completely transformed after we got into the paddy business. Not only are we leading a decent life, but we have also generated income opportunities for others,” said Jayashree Baboo, Chairman of the group. It all started after the State Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on May 29, 2019 took a historic decision approving a proposal to link WSHGs to different departments for the delivery of government services and the supply of an amount of Rs 5,000 crore over five years under a structured framework. way.

Paddy Supply Success

Paddy supply was initially piloted in 17 Gram Panchayats in Kalahandi during the 2018-19 rabi season. Over 24.71 lakh quintals of paddy were purchased by 17 SGH resulting in turnover of Rs 43.26 crore and commission of Rs 77.25 lakh, an average of Rs 4.5 lakh by group. Moved by the remarkable success, the state government decided to expand it and engaged 199 WSHGs in 11 districts under the 2019-20 kharif procurement. Nearly 23.07 lakh quintals of paddy worth Rs 419 crore were purchased, generating a commission worth Rs 7.2 crore. During Kharif 2021-22, 562 WSHGs were engaged in paddy supply in 20 districts.

While 74.85 lakh quintal of paddy worth Rs 1,452 crore was purchased, members earned commission worth Rs 23.39 crore. The women’s groups have helped the Civil Supplies Corporation procure 187.89 lakh tons of paddy over the past four years and generated an income of Rs 58.69 crore. From farmer registration to purchasing automation systems to biometric Iris scanner identification, trained SHG members do whatever is necessary when sourcing. The groups receive a commission of Rs 31.25 per quintal of paddy after the cost of the paddy is credited directly to farmers’ accounts by the Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation.

Once dependent on male family members, female SHG members now inspire rural people to become self-sufficient, secure a sustainable livelihood, better health care and better financial health. SHG leader Jayanti Ekka of Sundargarh district has been the face of women’s empowerment in Odisha ever since she caught everyone’s attention for her fiery speech at the last Make-in-Odisha conclave evoking a standing ovation from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Born to a poor farmer, Jayanti was not good at academics. She mustered up the courage to start Kalyani Group with a nominal loan of Rs 15,000 in 2003 and then she never looked back. Kalyani, which has branched out into making fly ash bricks, now employs a dozen women and supports around 50 families in Sundargarh district with over 15,000 SHGs.

The promotion of WSHGs under the umbrella of the “Mission Shakti” program was adopted on the eve of International Women’s Day in 2001 as a key strategy to achieve women’s empowerment in Odisha. It all started with an initial goal of forming 2 lakh groups in two years. In 2006-2007, up to 2,48,689 women’s self-help groups had been formed and this increased to 3,14,646 in March 2017.

An additional 2,87,367 WSHGs were trained in mission mode over the next two years and now Mission Shakti has become a silent revolution in the state with 6,02,013 WSHGs comprising 70,00,010 women. Building on the movement’s success, the government of Odisha made Mission Shakti a separate department bringing together all SHG-centric initiatives under one roof.

Mission Shakti’s journey from a program to a Direction and then to a dedicated “Mission Shakti Department” is a testament to the empowerment of women in the state. Converging with 15 departments, Mission Shakti has made tremendous progress in providing business worth Rs 1,200 crore to over one lakh SHG generating revenue of Rs 300 crore. At a time when increased emphasis is placed on innovation, technology and self-sufficiency in the post-Covid era and economically weaker sections have faced acute loss of jobs and income, the SHG movement in the state has come a long way in pushing several families out of poverty.

SHGs fill the bank gap

To ensure the provision of last mile banking services in the unbanked and underbanked Gram Panchayats, the state government has engaged SHG members as Business Correspondent Officers (BCAs). Up to 2,203 SHG members have been on board as BCAs and transactions amounting to Rs 880.84 crore have been undertaken by these BCAs.

“With the income generated by the various works carried out by our group, I was able to marry off my daughter. I also planned to send my only son to higher education. Thanks to the initiative of the government, we are now leading a life of dignity and respect. It is so satisfying,” said single mother Jyotsnamayi Dandasena, chairwoman of Maa Saraswati SHG in Madanpur in Kalahandi district. The unique subsistence model adopted by Mission Shakti has not only provided WSHGs with tremendous business, but the groups have also become torchbearers for a new socio-economic revolution.

Considering the selfless contribution and services rendered by the members, financial support amounting to Rs 217 crore per annum for meeting expenses and fixed travel allowances for Executive Committee members has been provisioned by the government. Similarly, the construction of a Shakti Gruha Mission in each GP and Urban Local Body across the state was undertaken to facilitate regular SHG meetings and provide retail outlets.

So far, 7,877 Gruhas have been sanctioned, of which 3,796 Gruhas have been completed with toilets and water supply facilities. Mission Shakti Department Commissioner-Secretary, Sujata R Karthikeyan said that the convergence model integrated with technology is paving the way for transformative change in empowering women in Odisha and that with access to the resources they need, women break the chains of poverty, build stability for themselves and have a positive impact in their communities.

“We are going to expand it and involve more SHGs. Since this is a huge volume of money, we don’t want middlemen to get involved. Support should reach genuine self-help groups that stimulate the rural economy. We have started connecting SHG producer groups with different national and international renowned trade organizations so that they can get the market price for their products, which will also become global. It will be a win-win situation for everyone,” she said. — The woes of the world stem from the fact that humans, on the whole, subscribe to a foolish idea that conservation is for the benefit of nature…

Mara R. Wilmoth