Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana Focuses on Social Security For Rural Women

Thanks to Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana (RGMVP) and its initiatives for social security management for poverty-stricken women in the rural India, that thousands of poor women like Jannat-unnisa, activist of Ali Swayam Sahayata Samooh in village Parsadepur, is enjoying secured life with assured inflow of income from the horse-cart ferry service she alongwith her husband has started.Says Jannat-unnisa, "I have got a lot of help from the samooh. My husband had borrowed Rs 3,000 at 10 percent interest from the thakur to buy a horse for the ikka gadi. We couldn't return it - the thakur got after us. Then I joined the samooh, the sisters advised me that I should take a loan and return the amount due to the thakur. I did that, my husband used to ply an ikka on hire, we returned the money through that. Then the sisters told me that I should borrow Rs 10,000 and buy a horse and ikka of our own. If I was earning Rs 50 on a hired ikka, I would be able to earn Rs 100 on my own one.

So I took the loan - today I have returned the loan and we have a good source of income."An important aspect of RGMVP's poverty reduction goals is to address social risks and build safety nets for the poor. While membership of such drives itself is the biggest safety net for the poor, risk mitigation measures have been instituted at several levels to ensure that the poor and the poorest of poor have a sense of security and can rely on safety nets in times of need.At the basic level, the Self Help Groups (SHGs) themselves serve to minimise social risk: close to 24,500 SHG members have savings worth Rs 94 million which considerable enhances security. At the next level, the Total Financial Inclusion strategy works to mitigate social risks by ensuring that high-cost interests and dependence on money lenders are completely eliminated for the poor's lives and that their every need is addressed through the formal system.There is no restriction on the end use of the loan taken by an SHG member: it could be for healthcare, for a wedding in the family, a pilgrimage, a religious ceremony.

The aim is to decrease the burden on the poor and reduce social risk by ensuring that they use only formal institutions for their needs rather than money lenders or other sources. Food security has been addressed SHGs through Grain Banks. Every member brings a handful of grain to the SHG meetings which is collected and from which poor members can 'borrow' rice and wheat for their needs so that no one goes hungry in the village. RGMVP studies have found that the poor spend a huge amount on healthcare, up to Rs 4,000 to 5,000 per family per year, money that the poor can ill afford. In this scenario, the Swasthya Sakhi programme serves as a safety net by creating awareness on healthcare and hygiene so that the poor can save this expenditure.