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Kerala's women's programme celebrates 16th anniversary

Posted on Aug 10 2014 | IANS

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 10 : Kudumbashree, a state-supported women's empowerment programme in Kerala that today has 40.54 lakh members, celebrates its 16th anniversary this year.

It was launched in 1998 as a community network. Its aim was to eradicate absolute poverty and empower women by engaging them in different fields. It started with waste picking and has evolved over the years.

"Gone are the days when Kudumbashree women were known just to pick the waste from our homes," Minister for Social Justice M.K. Muneer told IANS.

"Today, it is engaged in activities as diverse as waste picking to IT, construction, group farming, car rentals, diary and book making. Kudumbashree women are even working as counsellors in the anti-drug campaigns," said Muneer.

The initiative will celebrate its 16th anniversary Tuesday and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will attend a public meeting on the occasion.

"One of the reason for its success is that Kudumbashree women are present in the tiniest hamlet of our state," the minister added.

One of the most successful segments in this initiative is their micro-financing wing that has mobilised a sum of Rs.2,073 crore as thrift and disbursed loans amounting to Rs.8,539.55 crore to its members.

Over the years, they have developed 25,050 individual enterprises and 1,757 group enterprises in urban areas.

In the rural areas, there are 3,516 individual enterprises and 10,620 group enterprises.

In the field of agriculture, there are 201,650 women cultivators.

On the technology front, there are 62 Kudumbashree IT units.

"We will very soon come out with documented facts about the success stories of Kudumbashree women initiative," said K.B. Valsala Kumari, executive director of Kudumbashree.

She said Kudumbashree women have now forayed into managing car parking at two railway stations.

They will soon enter the field of education and will begin four community colleges.

"The first one would be a joint initiative with Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the agreement for this would be inked on Thursday as part of the 16th anniversary celebrations," said Kumari.

They have also now successfully entered the catering business.

In the last fiscal, the turnover from Cafe Kudumbashree food festivals touched Rs.3.22 crore.

"It started with picking up waste, and this initiative has reached this far. Our efforts will continue and will not stop till the aim of making Kerala women- and children-friendly is achieved," said Muneer.

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