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Five financial institutions helping in women empowerment in India

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By Shivya Malhotra

New Delhi: Cooperative financial institutions in India have contributed immensely not only in empowering women but also encouraging them to march towards the realm of development. Not only did they usher a paradigm change in the society but also improved women’s social and economic condition in all spheres of life.

Being autonomous in nature, the cooperatives focus on the welfare of the members associated with it thereby making lives better without being under the control of a single person.

Here are five women-centric cooperatives which played a pivotal role in changing futures of many Indian women.

Kodachadri Women Souharda Cooperative Credit Society

This first all-women society of its kind came into existence in Tirthahalli Taluk under the Karnataka Souharda Sahakari Act. The society provides loans to help women entrepreneurs who are interested in setting up various ventures including handicraft, packaging, dairy farming, and handlooms earn a livelihood.  Over 2,500 women have benefited from the society.

Lauding the initiative of the society, President of the Karnataka Cooperative Apex Bank, R M Manjunatha Gowda said, “the society is looking further to provide skill-based and vocational training for rural women.”

The society has encouraged many women to be self-sufficient and contribute to the growth of the Indian economy.

Subhalaxmi Bahumukhee Mahila Samabaya Samiti Ltd.

The tenacity of 10 women transformed the lives of over 2,500 women in Jharsugda district by organizing them in Self Help Groups (SHG). Starting with nine villages, the group reached out to 51 villages to empower women. The body provides loans, helps in business plans, and carries out other activities to assist rural women in self-sustainability.

Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank Ltd.

This Micro-finance institution, established in  1974 as an Urban Cooperative, shaped the future of many women working in the unorganized sector.  Besides providing loans, they also help in charting strategies for small and medium scale business.

The 4,000 women members contributed Rs 10 each to inaugurate the Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank Ltd. Since then, the organization acts as a helping hand to the women workers caught in the vicious cycle of poverty.

Nayuma Women’s Co-operative Society Ltd.

Set up in August 2001, Nayuma Women’s Co-operative Society Ltd is fulfilling the need to generate employment for marginalized women. The body trains women in various fields, especially tailoring and cutting. The trainees are also given opportunities to get themselves established. Later, manufacturing of craftwork and handloom products was expanded into a large scale of business activities.

Mann Deshi Bank

The organization, since 1997, has been catering to the needs of rural women by providing financial services to them. The society went ahead to open seven branches and provided assistance to countless women for self-sustainability.

“In order to fulfill the need of rural poor and make ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ a success, the Banking system in India needs a reinvention.” Said the founder,  Chetna Sinha.

Being the second largest microfinance bank in India, the organization is still ensuring to accumulate high results for the society as a whole.

These institutions have ushered in a new India where women are actively taking part in the nation-building process. The government needs to look into these and provide all out assistance and help setting up such bodies to reach to the women across the country.

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Top Hollywood women unveiled a sexual harassment initiative

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Top Hollywood women unveiled a sexual harassment initiative
A combination photo shows some of the actresses who have made allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. Listed in alphabetical order, top row from left, Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, Jessica Barth, Cara Delevingne, Romola Garai, Judith Godreche, Heather Graham, Angelina Jolie. VOA

USA, Jan 1, 2018: More than 300 top women in Hollywood — from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence to Emma Thompson and Cate Blanchett — unveiled an initiative Monday to tackle pervasive sexual harassment in workplaces, calling special attention to their “sisters” in less than glamorous blue-collar jobs.

The initiative, dubbed Time’s Up, caps a year in which the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal touched off a deluge of allegations that brought down powerful men in entertainment, politics and the media, prompting companies, government agencies and even the U.S. federal court system to re-examine harassment policies.

But in an open letter printed in The New York Times, the new initiative lends the star power of its A-list members to the cause of women in less prominent fields, urging support and respect for farm workers and others whose humble positions leave them vulnerable and voiceless.

“We fervently urge the media covering the disclosures by people in Hollywood to spend equal time on the myriad experiences of individuals working in less glamorized and valorized trades,” the group says in its full-page ad.

“To every woman employed in agriculture who has had to fend off unwanted sexual advances from her boss, every housekeeper who has tried to escape an assaultive guest, every janitor trapped nightly in a building with a predatory supervisor, every waitress grabbed by a customer and expected to take it with a smile … we stand with you. We support you.”

$15 million goal

Last month, the head of Ford Motor Company apologized to employees at two factories in Chicago and promised changes, after a scathing expose by the Timesdetailed pervasive harassment and mistreatment of women at the plants dating back to the 1990s. It was one of the first major media investigations into sexual harassment in blue-collar workplaces.

Among the specific steps it announced, Time’s Up has established a legal defense fund that, in just 12 days, has raised $13.4 million toward a $15 million goal aimed at providing legal aid for women and men who were sexually harassed, assaulted or abused in the workplace.

It has vowed to push for legislation to strengthen laws on workplace harassment and discrimination.

The group insists that more women must be brought into positions of power and leadership, while every woman should have equal benefits, opportunities, pay and representation.

As for Hollywood, it wants “swift and effective change to make the entertainment industry a safe and equitable place for everyone.”

And it called on women to wear black at Sunday’s Golden Globes as a statement against gender and racial inequality, and to raise awareness about the group’s efforts.

‘Dear Sisters’ 

The open letter in the Times, which also appears in the Spanish-language La Opinion, opens with the words “Dear Sisters” in large, bold type, and closes with the words “in solidarity,” followed by the names of the 300 women.

Several of Weinstein’s accusers signed the open letter. They include Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale, as well as Salma Hayek, whose lengthy account of mistreatment by Weinstein — “my monster,” she called him — was widely circulated on social media after appearing last month in The New York Times.

Weinstein has denied some of the allegations, including Hayek’s assertion that he pressured her to do a nude sex scene in one movie.

Other prominent women lending their names to the Time’s Up cause are actresses Natalie Portman, America Ferrera, Amy Schumer, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Keira Knightley, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Susan Sarandon, Uma Thurman and Viola Davis; producer Shonda Rhimes; Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley; feminist activist Gloria Steinem; lawyer and ex-Michelle Obama chief of staff Tina Tchen and Nike Foundation co-chair Maria Eitel. (VOA)