The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) of the Ministry of Rural Development and the World Bank recently organised a virtual learning programme to discuss ways to include very poor women in the programmes of the mission.
The DAY-NRLM is one of the largest community awakening efforts in the world mobilising over 80 million poor women in over 7.4 million self-help groups (SHGs) building their savings, promoting sustainable livelihoods, and empowering these women. It has a special emphasis on women from vulnerable communities such as manual scavengers, victims of human trafficking, particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) and persons with disabilities (PWD).
Despite the efforts of DAY-NRLM, many women from the poorest families face challenges in joining SHGs, maintaining savings and building their livelihoods. The virtual learning programme aimed at addressing this gap.
This learning session included presentations from BRAC and BOMA who have contributed to the State Rural Livelihood Mission of Bihar, besides successfully conducting such programmes in many countries. More than 6,000 participants from 34 states and union territories of India participated in this session.
Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Rural Development called for the need to have a clear definition to identify and target women who are easily deprived due to their identity and circumstances. “We need better bottom-up targeting to narrow our focus on these poorest women, give them small grants and assets, and some handholding through trainings and links to markets, before they can reach a minimum threshold to join groups and avail their entitlements.”
R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, said that the need for special attention to women with special needs like tribal widows, the elderly and the destitute shows that there is a need for a defined strategy for the very poor under DAY-NRLM.
World Bank’s Country Director for India, Junaid Kamal Ahmad added, “The World Bank has had a long relationship with NRLM. This partnership, through state-level rural livelihood missions (SRLMs) in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, has helped lift millions of households out of poverty. The goal is, however, even more ambitious – that of universal coverage. Women are often unable to take advantage of such missions – as they belong to socially excluded groups or live in isolated hamlets. The World Bank, in partnership with the states, is committed to ensuring that livelihood opportunities can be accessed by all women seeking to engage in the labour market.”
In the webinar, Anna O’Donnell, Lead Social Development Specialist, Social Sustainability and Inclusion, South Asia, World Bank, shared her views that in an intensive and coordinated manner of about 18-24 months, all programmes reach the very poorest families. It is possible to bring about a rapid reduction in poverty. The flexible and adaptive design of the programme, while retaining the core essence of the model will be more effective with a wider context in a country like India. The use of technology in the model can help in linking the learning and optimisation under the model with speed.
In his concluding remarks, Kevin Tomlinson, Practice Manager, Social Sustainability and Inclusion, World Bank, said, “With approximately 100 to 150 million people earning below $1.90 a day in India, these earnings may increase post-Covid. These people face many interconnected challenges, which often overlap with their social identity. They have no productive assets and are often excluded from social services. As we know, women face additional obstacles. I am hopeful that today’s presentations will give some fresh ideas to the ministry on how to develop and take forward an approach to reach out to women living in the most vulnerable situations.”