The Self Help Group revolution in Andhra Pradesh
The Swarna Jyothi Mahila Samakhya, a self help group (SHG), which is based in Dharmasagar mandal of Warangal district, has been attracting international attention for its achievements in the SHG movement. Pakistan-based Shoib Sultan Khan, who was given the Ramon Magsaysay award, has also visited Dharmasagar and interacted with SHG women to get an insight into their achievements.
Now, the women of Andhra Pradesh are teaching their sisters in Uttar Pradesh the dynamics of empowerment through self-help groups. More than 100 women from the state are now in Amethi, imparting awareness on self-help initiatives to womenfolk there. From forming simple thrift groups to turning entrepreneurs using local resources, AP women are pioneers of the SHG movement.
To make the SHGs organisationally sound and functionally effective, training is imparted on group formation, micro-credit planning, bank linkage, and maintenance of records through proper book keeping and creating awareness on social evils such as child marriages, child labour, illiteracy and superstitions. The strategy of weekly meetings introduced in the UP women’s groups is apparently working wonders. Each training team comprises three senior women community resource persons, one community activist, and one book keeper.
The Dharmasagar women are also getting good remuneration for their services.
Each trainer is being paid Rs 700 a day and the Swarna Jyothi Samakhya collects Rs 50 per day as resource fee, which would be added to the corpus fund. Till now they have earned more than Rs 2 lakh.
They were initially trained in Hindi for three weeks before being taken to UP for their tasks. Besides the Dharmasagar team, SHG women from the Orvakal in Kurnool district are also taking part in the training programmes.
The SHG movement and the training programmes are being implemented under the aegis of the Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Pariyojana project sponsored by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in the UP. As the bank linkage concept to the SHG women is also a new concept in UP, a total of 70 bank managers from the Amethi and Rai Bareli have also visited Warangal district and have interacted with the bank officials here.
After hearing about their unfolding success story in UP, the Bihar government too has invited the AP women to build up the SHG movement in villages of the state. Already, women from the Pragathi Mahila Samakhya in Geesukonda mandal of the Warangal district are training Bihar women under the Rural Livelihood Promotion Project sponsored by the World Bank.
It seems AP women are showing the way to the entire nation.