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Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure

by Seva Mandir
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Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure
Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure

Namaste,

We hope that you, your family and loved ones are safe and in good health.

The pandemic of Covid-19 has presented significant challenges to rural women. Seva Mandir’s role during this time became more important for these women and their families.

Seva Mandir has experience of more than 50 years of working with communities to transform and improve their lives – and that is no different now. Even during this pandemic, we remain committed to working with communities and helping them escape poverty.

During this period, we have increased our relief efforts to support these women and their families living in villages and urban slums of Udaipur and Rajsamand districts. Until now, we have provided around 50,000 relief kits for sanitation, food, storing grain and personal protection. Our food kit consists of onions, potatoes, grains, rice, oil, spices and salt, and in sanitation kit we are providing soaps and detergent packet, both enough to last a family of 5 for 2 weeks. Our comprehensive awareness campaign on Covid-19 has focused on the symptoms of Covid-19, how to protect those most at risk, quarantine methods, and more. Additionally, we are also coordinating with the government to support their own relief efforts. Until now, over INR 6 million (USD 80,000) has been spent in providing relief. We are regularly sharing updates of our relief efforts on our dedicated Covid-19 page on our website which you can find here.

 

Just a few months ago, Meera's mother died. She had been living under her daughter's care for many years, relying on her for every need. Meera's husband has died 25 years earlier, and, aside from her responsibility as a full-time carer, she also worked as a daily-wage labourer as a means of earning some income.

When the lockdown due to Covid-19 started, Meera's only way to earn an income was abruptly cut off. She didn't know how she was going to survive. Her only support network was her local Self-Help Group - a women-only group created and facilitated by Seva Mandir. Aware of her situation, they told her of Seva Mandir's Covid-19 relief efforts.

‘My situation is already so bad - I did not think it could get any worse.' Meera explains. ‘But then the relief kits came, and suddenly I felt like my own family is here to help.'

 

We deeply thank you for your valuable contribution. That has aided the families and communities to survive through this period of crisis till here.

We all know that the challenge is yet to be over, and the difficult times are ahead of us. Seva Mandir is unabated in its determination to continue working with its communities to find solutions for dignified lives and livelihoods. You can be part of this effort whether it is by donating directly to Seva Mandir, by spreading the word of Seva Mandir to people you know, or just by sending us your messages of support. You can give your support to our Covid-19 project by clicking here.

Once again, thank you for your unwavering support. Please stay healthy and keep social distancing.

Regards

Atul Lekhra & the Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir 

Packing Relief Kits
Packing Relief Kits
Distributing Relief Kits
Distributing Relief Kits
Maintaining Social Distancing
Maintaining Social Distancing
A member of our distribution team
A member of our distribution team

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Dear Friend,

In our working area, women often have no say in decisions regarding the finances of their family. They have always worked to contribute to sustaining their family – whether in the fields or by doing work paid for by the government or by commercial employers. But they have had little or no control over where the family money goes. Women who have been deserted or forced to leave the matrimonial home commonly have nothing.

With limited income, families are forced to borrow to pay for healthcare, social obligations or investment necessary to increase or safeguard the family’s livelihood. In the area we work in, where banks are generally far away, largely unsupportive and daunting to rural people, credit is often only available through moneylenders who target rural women and offer credit at extortionate rates (frequently 60-120% p.a., with crippling monthly payments). Many women are forced to pawn their precious jewellery, which is seen as the only kind of realisable asset these rural people have. Reclaiming it is, once again, only possible at high rates of interest.

As a response to these problems, Seva Mandir has helped women to set up Self-Help Groups in the villages. These allow women to save regularly and receive credit which is controlled collectively with their friends and colleagues at a much more affordable rate (1-2% monthly). We have also introduced a number of livelihood opportunities to enable women to earn more for their families. This adds to their security, confidence, status in their own communities and financial independence.

Financial independence for women is life-changing, giving them the ability to make independent decisions for themselves and their family. Since the SHGs’ creation, over 10,000 women have been given access to affordable credit and saving schemes. As a result, SHGs have accumulated more than INR 116 million (approximately USD 1.6 million) which is available to support women further.

 

Sheela, mother of 5 is a homemaker and takes care of her children. Her husband works as a waiter at marriage functions in Udaipur, and has to stay away from his village for 15 or more days at a time. So, it’s the sole responsibility of Sheela to take care of her children whilst her husband works. It’s very difficult for her to manage the household work and take care of the children all alone, yet, she is managing everything.

Sheela is a member of one of the SHG groups. Once, her husband did not receive his paycheck on time and was not able to come home. It became a difficult situation for Sheela to look after her children and get food for them. The situation got bad and she ran out of sundries and food entirely. 

She went directly to the only option available to her; her SHG group. The group gave her immediate loan of Rs. 500 ($7) to buy much needed food for her hungry children. To most, this is just a small amount, but to Sheela it meant survival.

Sheela explains; ‘It’s just a small amount but it saved my children’s lives by providing help when I needed it the most.’

The SHGs empower women, even in the most dire of situations, to stay in control of their own lives, maintain their dignity, and provide for their family.

 

It is because of you, we at Seva Mandir were able to bring all these women together, make them aware of becoming self-sufficient and form these loan groups that can empower them. Without your support none of this would be possible, so a heartfelt thank you goes out to you for supporting our efforts in empowering women. The empowerment and autonomy of women are essential for the achievement of sustainable development.

We are also happy to share with you that our project Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure is accepted to participate in the 2020 Girl Fund Campaign by GlobalGiving. The campaign is our chance to win one of eight year-long slots in the GlobalGiving Girl Fund. The Girl Fund is made up of hundreds of donors committed to supporting GlobalGiving’s top tier organizations working to accelerate women’s equality around the world. For one year, the winning cohort will receive funding on a monthly basis from the Girl Fund. The campaign will be held from March 6-13. Fifteen organizations with the most unique donors will get a chance to enter in the final round of the Girl Fund Campaign. Please help us by spreading the word with your friends about our project.

Thank you once again and Happy International Women’s Day to you.

Regards

Atul Lekhra & the Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir

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Dear Friend,

The status of women has improved considerably in the last few decades in the regions of Udaipur and Rajsamand. While there are still major hurdles to overcome, it has brought about meaningful transformations in the lives of rural and tribal women. Women have become more confident, are more visible in social and political spaces, and young women in particular are aspiring to a receive a quality education and increased autonomy.

Seva Mandir's Women's Empowerment programme continues to contribute towards this change and seeks to enhance the status of women through a variety of interventions. Working in collaboration with women, men and their communities, the programme tackles multifaceted inequality at each level, in order to cultivate more just and gender-equal relations, norms and practices. By helping women run and self-govern institutions such as the Self-Help Groups (SHGs), the programme also develops solidarity, governance and management capacities among women.

Thavri is from a remote tribal community in southern Rajasthan, where, as is often the case for women in most remote areas, she had no control of her family’s or her own finances. That all changed when a Seva Mandir facilitated Self-Help Groups (SHGs) opened in her village. Tharvi immediately joined as a member. Before the SHG, Tharvi was unable to save any money, and she would have to borrow money from a local moneylender at 5% interest but she was often unable to keep up with the payments.

As a member of the SHG, she was able to avoid such moneylenders. Tharvi took a loan of Rs 45,000 (USD $627) to pay for her son’s wedding at an interest rate of just 1%. She takes comfort in knowing that the interest in re-invested into the SHG to help other women like herself.

This is just one of the examples of how the SHGs help women during their time of need. Without your support none of this would be possible.

We would also like to share that Seva Mandir is delighted to congratulate long-time academic collaborators and supporters of its work, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, who have just won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science ‘for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.’

On receiving the award, Abhijit paid tribute to Seva Mandir: ‘I really owe to those with whom we work, whose lives we study in many ways. And also the people who work with them. We've learned a huge amount from organisations like Seva Mandir and Pratham, for example. In my personal experience, these organisations work on a very large scale with very poor people.’

This is not the first time that one of Seva Mandir’s research partners has received a Nobel prize. In 2015, Professor Angus Deaton won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences for his analysis of consumption, poverty and welfare. With Banerjee and Duflo, and in partnership with Seva Mandir, Professor Deaton conducted a survey of rural households and health facilities in Udaipur district, discussed in their joint paper Health Care Delivery in Rural Rajasthan, 2003.

Seva Mandir will continue to work with many other prestigious international and national academics to solve the problems faced by people living in poverty.

I am also happy to share with you that we have a new website (www.sevamandir.org)! We invite you to explore it!

Thank you again for your generosity in choosing to support the project of Seva Mandir. Together, we can transform lives.

Regards

Atul Lekhra & the Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir 

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Dear Friend,

Sheetal, a middle-aged woman, lives in Bagundra village of Rajsamand district. She comes from a highly patriarchal family, which abandoned her after the death of her husband. She and her two children were left with a small patch of land as their only means of financial support, which was not sufficient to fulfil their basic needs.

Seva Mandir started work in her village last year. Initially Sheetal attended the awareness campaign on savings and credits, and then became a member of the SHG (Self Help Group) formed in her village.

Being a widow, it wasn't easy for Sheetal to come out of her house or attend meetings or training, as this is against the traditions of her caste. But she realized this was a golden opportunity to earn and save for the future of her children, so she went ahead. She started saving through her SHG and enrolled in stitching and patchwork training. Today, she is not only saving for a brighter future for her children but has also secured an alternative livelihood for herself. Her dedication and this opportunity by Seva Mandir have helped her overcome many barriers and become a confident woman.

Thanks to your support, Seva Mandir’s SHGs are able to give women, the ability to become financially independent and improve their families living. Thanks to you, you are giving women the opportunities to take control of their own lives, and, overall, break the devastating cycle of poverty.

Regards,

Atul Lekhra & the Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir

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Dear Friend,

As is the case with all of the villages we work with, the daily income per-capita in these communities is just INR 35 (USD$0.50), and families tend to support themselves through subsistence agriculture. Many young people would travel daily to Udaipur to seek work, finding labour jobs with dangerous conditions. For women especially, this situation is particularly bleak; most are unable to have any control over their household finances and are unable to work due to traditional gender roles dictating that they perform household chores and look after children.

Through our Self-help Groups (SHGs), we have been challenging this situation to give women more independence so that they can empower themselves and their communities. In 2012, Seva Mandir started an income generating project in the remote and rural Shishvi village, over 40km away from Udaipur. Through the local SHG, women were trained on how to prepare high-quality natural soaps and detergents to sell at market. The women took relatively small loans from their SHG to purchase the materials needed and started working. By 2015/16, the annual production of detergent was more than 1,200 kgs, earning the women more than INR 60,000 (USD$677) in total. 30% of this total was put into the reserves to ensure that the women could grow their fledgling business. The women of Shishvi village were so successful in this venture that other communities approached them to learn their methods. 

More recently, SHGs in another rural area have been linking women with income generating activities. Ratani lives with her 2 sons and her husband in a small remote hamlet in a tribal community. Ratani’s husband was the primary earner of the household, working irregularly as a mason, but the family were struggling on his meagre wage. Ratani joined a SHG in her local area and was connected with a Seva Mandir project which was giving chickens and roosters to selected beneficiaries. Ratani was able to sell some of her roosters, hens and eggs for more than INR 6,200 (USD$90) in just one month. Ratani was determined to do more to increase her income and improve her family’s lives; she invested in a tent-hire business.  “Purchasing the tents has brought in extra money to our household” Ratani proudly claims.

Thanks to your support, Seva Mandir’s SHGs are able to give women, such as those from Shishvi village and Ratani, the ability to become financially independent and improve their families living. Thanks to you, you are giving women the opportunities to become entrepreneurs, to take control of their own lives, and, overall, break the devastating cycle of poverty.

Regards,

Atul Lekhra & the Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir 

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Organization Information

Seva Mandir

Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @sevamandir
Project Leader:
Ronak Shah
Udaipur, Rajasthan India
$32,867 raised of $40,000 goal
 
522 donations
$7,133 to go
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