Background on MAVIM’s Approach
The initial approach assumed that economic self-sufficiency would
lead to automatic full empowerment; but it was soon realized that the
solution wasn’t so straightforward.
15 years (1975-1990) of focusing exclusively on building women’s
economic independence led to the conclusion that women who are
earning are still often socially backward. Additionally, cultural, societal
norms and taboos regarding women are also a major hurdle in the
upliftment of rural women. It was realized that opportunity provision
was not enough to effectively tackle the problem, unless it was
coupled with capacity building.
Following these insights, the approach changed to accept that social
factors must be addressed and capacity building is essential to enable
women to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them. Thus,
the medium of self-help groups proved itself to be extremely essential
to the success of MAVIM’s objectives.
SHG medium is a fundamental building block.
It is empowering and effective because it allows women to
come forward and speak their minds.
Association with reputed financial institutions allows for
increased access to loans and other financial aid. The potential
benefits for the entire family cause them to look favourably
upon the women of the house attending the gatherings.
The philosophy of SHGs maintains that irrespective of class, caste,
culture – the common bond of womanhood acts as an equaliser.
1. The comfort and trust created in these groups provides women
with the reassurance they are not alone in facing challenges in
their daily lives. The SHG then affords collective bargaining and
advocacy power within the community and enables redressal of
injustices e.g. domestic violence.
2. The meetings become a solid support system to discuss
womanhood, social issues and to gain social support beyond
just financial support.
3. Simultaneously group savings and internal lending structures
have been created to enable small livelihood activities.
A hands-on mobilisation strategy is the
key differentiator of MAVIM’s approach as
opposed to other government structures.
Via doorstep services, MAVIM is able to directly reach
out to the woman in her household, in her village, to
convince her to join SHGs.