The position of women in society has been an issue for a long time in the country. Development of women (forming half of the population) is a pre-requisite for the development of the nation. There is no doubt that the development of a nation as a whole will suffer if women are not mainstreamed, and are not facilitated to break the shackles of bondage and become productive partners.
A turn for the better is that, in recent times, approaches have evolved from welfare (granting of aids to satisfy basic consumption needs) to development which involves capability building of women so that they become empowered to provide for themselves and their resources can be utilized meaningfully.
Numerous policies have been formulated and different strategies, tools and techniques have been utilized by practitioners in their attempts at empowering and developing the poor. Focus, in recent times, has also been on women as a specific target group, for they have been the pillars of families (basic units of the society and nation alike).
Over the last decade, these initiatives have borne both successful and not so successful results. Strategies for initiation of economic activities (either alone or in conjunction with others) have emerged as major tools. On the threshold of a new millennium, now is the time to synthesize the experiences and plan out strategies for regional/ national interventions and future action.
A fresh look at the prevailing strategies, which have achieved qualitative results and approaches of mainstreaming women in development, is required. Also, the best practices need to be identified so that learning could be shared and duplication in terms of efforts avoided. Many a time, there is a huge gap between policies and practices because of information blocks, thereby, resulting in wastage at both ends. Effort has to be made towards effective integrations of the policies and practices so that they get a focused direction.
ICECD has been in the vanguard for small and micro-enterprise development. It has worked consistently around the globe, concretizing the efforts by keeping gender issues in sharp focus, and striving to increase access/control of the poor to productive resources and facilities.
The course would attempt to map out the direction and strategies for the policy makers and practitioners, by developing a plan of action for mainstreaming women through economic empowerment.
The Deliberations will focus on four major themes:
- Changing status of rural women in the current rural scenario: mainstreaming women in economic development – The focus will be on gender related issues relevant in today’s rural India and how women can be empowered by creating better access to resources and facilities. Presentations on various approaches adopted for empowering women will be shared in respect to the existing macro and micro policies.
- Learning and reviewing best practices and existing models for mainstreaming – The theme will cover and critically examine the best practices and different approaches being used by various organizations, at different levels. This will include presentation of case studies in best practices, along with some of the models prevalent in our country, and make an attempt to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the same. Discussions on the outcome, impact and sustainability will also be undertaken for better understanding.
More specifically, the following issues will be covered in the study of the models and best practices:
- Women and Micro Credit
- Women Groups & Co-operatives
- Traditional role of women
- Alternative roles of women
- Traditional Occupations (Handloom, Handicrafts, Coir etc.) and performance
- Need to initiate non-traditional activities
- Need for Gender Sensitization
- Restructuring and Strengthening the credit delivery to women
- Developing indicators for measuring effectiveness of development practices for mainstreaming women – A common understanding of mainstreaming strategies and developing indicators for measuring the effectiveness of various initiatives undertaken within these strategies is a necessity. The discussions under this theme will, therefore, help to identify various indicators that can be used for measuring the effectiveness of the mainstreaming efforts.
- Integrating these indicators in the developmental projects for mainstreaming – Based on the interactions and presentations on these themes, a plan of action will be evolved to integrate the best practices in the development projects. It will cover policy issues, training needs, follow-up/other support and effective models that can be used to reach women more effectively.
Some select organizations and experts will be requested to prepare and present their papers on the above themes and share their experiences. Discussions and deliberations will follow.
The focus will be on learning and reviewing best practices and existing models available in our country and how to strengthen and integrate these approaches for reaching a wider segment of the society. Emphasis will be laid on supporting women to have better access to credit and training technology for enterprise creation, thereby, enhancing their empowerment.
Papers and case studies will be invited in advance. In appreciation of their efforts, an honorarium will be offered to the paper writers. Practicing organizations will also be encouraged to share their experiences and reflect upon the presentations.
The consultation will bring about forward looking strategies and plan of action aimed at mainstreaming women. The consultation report will spell out recommendations on reorienting/redefining roles of all concerned development agents (Financial Institutions, implementing organizations, support organizations and funding agencies). It will also evolve and strengthen models so as to effectively reach larger number of women and improve the credit flow.
The report will act as an important document to further evolve state/regional and national policies, plans and programs for mainstreaming women.
The consultation is planned for a group of 20, with participation from developmental organizations including policy makers, NGOs, GOs, banks, support agencies and donor agencies
The nature of participation could be categorized as under:
- Experts/resource persons who will present their papers on the identified themes
- Participants from agencies who will bring in experiences to be deliberated within the consultation
- Observers from national and international agencies
- Duration: 2 Weeks