The World Bank is helping the Indian government to scale up a women’s empowerment initiative in one of the poorest regions of India to bring transformational change to the lives of rural women, their families, the economy, and society.
National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM)has promoted women’s economic empowerment in India.In the state of Bihar there are currently nearly seven million women who are part of self-help groups. It has significantly helped to reduce the groups’ dependency on high-cost debt from moneylenders.
“Just a few years back, I was surviving on the back of a sewing machine, stitching 2-3 pieces of clothes a day with blisters on my hands,” said Kiran Devi, who joined a self-help group in Bihar ten years ago and is now a director at the Aranyak Producer Company, a women-owned farmer’s producer company. The company delivers better prices for more than 6,000 maize farmers in Purnia district of Bihar. She has recently purchased a tractor for $16,000, half from her own savings.
“Their narrations of personal experience and efforts opened a whole new dimension,” said Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar. “It was a revelation to see the seeds of a deep-seated social transformation in Bihar like never before.”
The National Rural Livelihoods Mission is providing important lessons to other Bank projects in Africa and East Asia. More than 30 country delegations from Afghanistan, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Azerbaijan have visited the Indian states where the project succeeded to replicate the model.