A community which ensures that its women get a fair share of the wealth and services created within it, is also ensured of a robust and inclusive social, financial and demographic development. This is one of the key principles that govern all major initiatives of National Skill Development Cooperation (NSDC), the executive wing of the Skill India Mission. The contribution of women in the running expenses of a household-- both in the rural as well as the urban sector-- is significant, says NSDC. Therefore, her financial status and decisions play an important role in moulding and influencing the economy of a nation.
Unfortunately, a lion’s share of the real time data concerning the volume borne by the women gets buried under red tape and the key players are never adequately acknowledged. This is particularly true in villages where a woman’s role is manifold, both at home and in the fields. Yet, as per official data, the female labour participation rate is pegged at a lowly 29 per cent. Obviously the figure needs to be upgraded. The NSDC has come forward with projects that highlight the work load of an average rural woman, assesses its impact on the economy at large. It also offers her an opportunity to up-skill herself.
NSDC has a dedicated cell for Affirmative Action programmes, focused on women, minorities, People With Disabilities (PWD) and other vulnerable groups (juveniles, surrendered militants, inmates, transgenders. This cross-functional cell has representatives from various programmes run by NSDC, including Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) the flagship scheme of the MSDE (PMKVY) and fee-based/corporate-sponsored programes. It is now using this channel to help woman entrepreneurs to sharpen their skills and broaden their vision.
But will there be enough takers for these ladies-only training courses? How critical is it for a woman in a typical village household to sustain an income source? To gauge that we must take into account her ‘contribution’ to the family kitty. It is immensely impressive.From taking care of basic resources required to run a household—fuel, fodder and water—to ensuring a small but steady ‘second’(first being the amount earned by male members of the family) income to meet the other expenses, she is often the backbone of her family’s budget.
Womenfolk in rural India are by no means novices on the finances front.They have traditionally led the micro-entrepreneurial initiatives, using self help groups (SHGs) as the medium. They have acquired all the qualities of a veteran finance managers.
SHGs are seen as instruments for a variety of goals including empowering women, developing leadership abilities, pushing for more school enrollments, and improving nutrition and the use of birth control., Financial intermediation is generally considered an entry point to these other goals, say Social Scientists.
The SHG members prefer to remain focussed on certain the tried and tested sectors of business, such as dairy,tailoring, beautycare.NSDC and its training partners are now nudging them to explore new territories. Enlisting help from industry partners, they organise training courses that serve new sectors. The women are now being trained to driver cars, repair, pumps and manage shop floors.
There is no doubt about it. NSDC is laying the foundation of a system that has the potential to build up teams of home-spun finance gurus,confident enough to push the barrier and experiment with new job roles.And fetch a fair share of business for their people