Federations: Stability and Security for the Future
As the next step forward in women’s empowerment, most of the Arpana facilitated women’s self help groups (SHGs) are members in two Federations which have a total of 800 SHGs with over 11,098 members and a consolidated savings of Rs.12 crore ($2,000,000) or about Rs.10,800 ($180) per women.
These women’s Federations have significantly improved the status of women through regular savings, enabling women to engage in business, imparting health related information, combating social evils (female foeticide, dowry, etc.) participating in local governance and availing of government programs. 4,745 women entrepreneurs have taken loans and now, women who could barely feed their children, are running their own successful small businesses.
The Federations are evolving into vibrant and dynamic grassroots organizations of marginalized, yet empowered women, committed to enhance their quality of life, to work for better health, social justice, gender parity and good local governance. They anchor the groups in the present: they will provide stability, security and leadership in the future.
Women leaders of the two Federations conduct monthly meetings with senior Arpana team members, to review the groups they monitored, to approve loans and receive loan repayments. These meetings are also training sessions for freshly nominated leaders as well as a forum for problem solving and an opportunity to strengthen the leadership qualities and skills of the leaders.
It is the leaders who are ongoing motivators, who embody the vision and start the implementation process for activities which strengthen the organizations and empower its members. It is vitally important for grassroots organizations to become self-sustaining so they are independent in the future.