Women's Empowerment Programs & Their Impact
Forums and Resource Centers
39 Women’s Forums recruit, train and invest authority in women leaders, encouraging them to take unified action on community issues. In a recent year, for example, Women’s Forums pressured the government to install a hand pump for water, run a cattle camp to treat animal sickness, and approve a Rs. 1 million ($17,000) development proposal for women’s toilets. Seva Mandir’s nine Women’s Resource Centers are community courts run by local women leaders whose judgment is respected by the entire village. In a recent year, centers heard 110 cases mostly related to domestic violence. Because the state legal system is expensive, corrupt and often backlogged for years, these courts are frequently the only recourse for women to seek justice.
Our 573 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are self-governing savings and credit cooperatives organized at the village level. By offering fair interest rates, they give over 8,250 women members greater financial independence and have reduced their families’ dependence on predatory money lenders. Each SHG receives training on the fundamentals of financial planning, and has an accountant and annual external audit. Many entrepreneurial SHGs have founded income-generating ventures, such as making and selling dairy products and floriculture, an initiative that involved over 150 women in 2012-13, for example. To underwrite these ventures, SHGs raised Rs. 4.5 million ($75,000) that year from banks and local Village Development Funds.
Domestic Violence Shelter
A Short Stay Haven in Udaipur City provides temporary shelter for women fleeing domestic violence and other problems at home. Women are given room and board, child care, psychological counseling, remediation services, legal advice and livelihood training to build economic independence, all at a cost to Seva Mandir of just Rs. 3940 ($56) for a woman for one month. Last year over 100 women and 50 children used the Short Stay Home’s services, 90 cases were satisfactorily resolved, and 18 women secured new employment. Overall, 548 of the 564 women who have stayed at the Home have found a positive resolution, whether through remediation or a fresh start.