There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.
Financial independence directly correlates to social independence. Thus, alleviation of poverty has the potential to positively impact the lives of women in the community and help them lead self-reliant lives of dignity.
Deepalaya has consistently held the belief that the community benefits when its women are empowered. To resolve this two-pronged issue of poverty and gender inequity, in 1999 Deepalaya started its SHG and Microfinance Project in Tavru, a district in Mewat. Women are organised into SHG groups and given workshops on its functioning, sanitation issues and legal rights. They are also allotted small loans at minimal interest rates to set up their enterprises. In 2015 Deepalaya collaborated with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for a three-year project with the aim of forming 200 Self Help Groups (SHGs).
These projects brought along a sea change for the community. Established credit linkages helped women expand their micro-enterprises. Women who were initially trapped in their homes got an immense opportunity to show their community, society and their family that they possess abilities of self-reliance and independence. There have been other tangible benefits, including a spike in the literacy rate of children, especially the girl child. Instances of domestic violence, female foeticide and child marriage have decreased. There have been changes in the levels of menstrual hygiene and hygiene in the home. Women have started to speak out against systemic problems like alcoholism, and now command more respect within the community and society at large.
This project has been implemented in over 400 villages, with 1616 Self Help Groups (SHGs) already set up and an ever-increasing family of 18,173 women members. 8411 enterprises have already sprung up across districts as a result of this project.