Women Participation for Rural Development

March 24, 2012
School of Business, Coimbatore

An Amrita paper titled Women Participation is Must for Rural Development, was published in the March 2012 Issue of IFRSA Business Review.

A publication of the International Forum of Researchers, Students and Academicians, the IFRSA Business Review covers the fields of engineering and design in addition to management.

An Ideal of Women Empowerment

The Amrita paper was authored by Dr. Mridula Sahay, Associate Professor, Amrita School of Business.

The paper highlighted Dr. Mridula’s analysis of studies concerning women’s participation in rural development, conducted by the World Bank and other institutions. It also presented her personal field observations.

In the paper, Dr. Mridula observed that the global status of women is stated succinctly in a United Nations report — “Women comprise one-half of the human race, do two-thirds of the work, receive one-tenth of the world’s income and own less than one-hundredth of all property.”

Her other observations, especially regarding Indian conditions, are summarized below.

An Ideal of Women Empowerment

“The status of women in India indicates they are a vital part of the economy, one-third of the national labor force, yet remain at a disadvantage concerning issues of survival, health, nutrition, literacy and productivity.”

“Most rural Indian women are unskilled, have no control over land or other productive assets and are unable to obtain institutional credit, forcing them to seek expensive informal sources of credit for consumption and productive purposes.”

Dr. Mridula detailed how the India Rural Development Project initiated in March 1997 has helped empower the poorest rural women in the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

“The project emphasized a holistic scheme of four pillars – self-help groups, bank loans to groups, more opportunities to play a role in decision making within local government settings and experience in programs such as the UP Social Lands Reclamation Project and Tamil Nadu Women’s Development Project,” she noted.

An Ideal of Women Empowerment

She highlighted rural development strategies of the World Bank also. “The programs integrate women in rural development projects through gender-sensitive policies that bring equitable benefits to both men and women.”

“It is important to recognize and support women’s productivity and strength. They are neither a fringe group, nor should they be degraded to being recipients of charity,” she underlined.

In her concluding remarks, Dr. Mridula saw women’s empowerment leading to a realization of the ideal contained in the ancient Sanskrit sloka – Yatra Nari Pujyante, Ramante Tatra Devta – where women are worshiped, there is the abode of God.

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