Government scheme aims to boost women self-help groups

NEW DELHI - Aiming to encourage self-reliance among women across the country, the government Friday said it would allocate Rs.20 crore for extending women self help groups (SHGs) to every block in the country.

The Women and Child Development Ministry’s Swayamsidha Scheme for holistic empowerment of women through SHG formation has its presence in 650 blocks of the country, catering to 930,000 women in 53,000 such groups.

“The WCD Ministry has proposed to cover all the remaining blocks in the country and to ensure the larger coverage in the states lagging behind in woman development indices. A budget provision of Rs.20 crore has been made in the annual budget of 2009-10 for providing grant to the self-help groups under the scheme,” a ministry statement issued here Friday said.

The grant provided by the ministry would be seed money to set up the SHGs while the groups would also be given access to micro-credit from various financial institutions for taking up projects - earnings from which would in turn add to economic resources of the groups, the release said.

The Swayamsidha Scheme aims at developing strong pressure groups for women’s rights, strengthening and institutionalising saving among rural women and their control over economic resources, improving access to micro-credit and involvement of women in local planning and convergence of different agencies for women’s empowerment and integrated projects.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while presenting the budget Monday, said that at least 50 percent of all rural women in the country would be enrolled in SHGs over the next five years and these in turn would be linked to banks.

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