The Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Narendra Singh Tomar has said India cannot emerge as a developed economy in the comity of nations without participation of women. Addressing a live TV programme on DD Kisan on Women’s Empowerment to mark the International Women’s Day here today, he said the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s mission of a New India can become a reality only with the active participation of women, who constitute half of the population, in the economy. Women are now not only toppers in academic Board and competitive exams, but handling key positions in various sectors ranging from industry, scientific and technical research, space research & nuclear programmes, police and armed forces and bureaucracy, he added.
Tomar said the Women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) are backbone of poverty alleviation programmes and the entire focus of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare and Departments of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj is oriented towards women’s emancipation. “Since communities can be more influential than individuals, the role of SHGs as change makers is critical in the development process sweeping across the rural landscape,” he said.
Tomar said there are 60.8 lakh SHGs across the country mobilizing more than six crore 73 lakh women. “The Rural Development Ministry plans to create a total of 75 lakh SHGs by 2022 to enable more women to get livelihood,” he said.
Tomar said the Government is providing funds and training to SHGs for livelihood missions, linking them with banks for easy credit flow and the Rural Development Ministry has instituted awards for SHGs encouraging them to perform better. More than Rs.2.75 lakh crores credit has been provided to SHGs during last six years to make women self-dependent. More than five crore people are annually employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and women constitute 55% of the workforce under the MGNREGA. Even under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) with 4.66 lakh women involved, the participation of women is more under the scheme, he said.
Tomar said the Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) was restructured and subsumed into the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana (DAY) – National Rural Livelihood Mission (Ajeevika) (NRLM). Under the Mission, the Government aims to reach out to about 10 crore rural poor households. The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has given dignity to women and enhanced their safety with the construction of 9.5 crore toilets across the country.
Tomar said Government is not only supporting women and rural population but also providing them with platforms like the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) for fetching better prices for their products. “The Government has made it mandatory for its offices to first source their requirements from GeM and purchase from other sources only if unavailable here,” he said.
Rural women participants sitting in Doordarshan studios in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Patna and Ranchi, besides Delhi interacted with the Minister during the programme. They shared their stories of success and narrated how the SHGs have helped them become independent and contribute to raising family income. Women participants included several Community Resource Persons (CRPs) including Pashu Sakhi, Krishi Sakhi, Bank Sakhi and Poshan Sakhi.