Empowerment of women is one of the key development initiatives identified by the Government of Odisha. It is well-known that economic empowerment of women significantly contributes to their social empowerment. As such helping women to achieve economic independence by enabling them to have independent employment and income has been accorded the highest priority. Therefore, promotion of Women’s Self-Help Groups (WSHGs) under the aegis of ‘Mission Shakti’ programme was adopted in 2001 as a key strategy for achieving women’s empowerment.
“Mission Shakti” is the self-help mission for empowering women through promotion of Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) to take up various socio-economic activities which was launched in the state on 8th March 2001 on the eve of International Women’s Day. Mission Shakti has the clear objective of empowering women through gainful activities by providing credit and market linkage. Empowerment of women through WSHGs under Mission Shakti is a flagship programme of the Government. It envisages that over a period of time more & more women would be part of a WSHG.
Nearly 70 lakh women have been organized into 6 lakh groups in all blocks and urban local bodies of the State so far. To strengthen the activities of the existing WSHGs and to provide momentum to formation of new WSHGs, constant handholding and monitoring is undertaken throughout the year. For this purpose, a separate Directorate of Mission Shakti has been created under the Department of Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti.
Major Areas of Focus
- Formation and strengthening of WSHGs: There are around 6 lakh Women Self-Help Groups (WSHGs) formed and nurtured by Mission Shakti in Odisha, comprising around 70 lakh women members.
- Institutionalization of WSHGs by federating them at Gram Panchayat, block and district levels
- Building up the capacity of Community Based Organizations (from SHGs to Federations)
- Strengthening livelihoods and consolidating the efforts through aggregation to ensure sustainability of the initiatives
- Ensuring market linkage to SHG products across the state
- Creating awareness among women on social entitlements and promoting inter-agency convergence for livelihood promotion
- Linking women with formal financial institutions: Mission Shakti SHGs have been actively linked with bank credit system. Sustainable practices such as regular meeting, credit and thrifts, internal lending, timely and regular repayment and regular book keeping are reinforced for efficient SHG management.
- Financial inclusion: Initiatives such as provisioning of seed money and revolving fund for WSHGs, facilitation of credit linkage, implementation of interest subvention scheme, financial strengthening of BLFs through revolving fund and financial literacy programmes across the state aim at financial inclusion of women.
- Policy Formulation and Advocacy: Mission Shakti has been actively involved in analysis of existing Government policies in association with various stakeholders, identifying the policy gaps and recommending suitable policy actions for mainstreaming women in livelihoods, finance and development initiatives.
- Mission Shakti has been playing both the roles of a whistle blower and a torchbearer for women empowerment. It provides a platform to bring out the changes as intended for a just society where women can also have a say.
- Fostering Gender Transformative Changes: Issues around gender discrimination and social evils are taken up by Mission Shakti for public discussion and thus the state facilitates a process for the emergence of a new generation of women leaders. It has not only brought political empowerment to women but also provided opportunities to speak out and actively engage in issues pertaining to gender.
WSHG Movement in the State
Mission Shakti started with an initial objective of forming two lakh groups in two years. By 2006-07, 2,48,689 women SHGs had been formed which increased to 3,14,646 by March 2017. Consequent upon creation of new Directorate, additional 2,87,367 WSHGs were formed on a mission mode since April 2017. Mission Shakti has become a silent revolution in the state with 6,02,013 WSHGs comprising 70,00,010 women.
Progress of Women SHGs (In Number)