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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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Women Hit Especially Hard In Congo’s Worst Ebola Outbreak

For the afflicted, the road to recovery is long and lonely.

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Ebola, WHO, UNICEF, congo, Uganda, women
Congolese health workers register people and take their temperatures before they are vaccinated against Ebola in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the throes of its worst-ever Ebola outbreak, with more than 420 cases in the country’s volatile east, and a mortality rate of just under 60 percent. But this outbreak — the nation’s tenth known Ebola epidemic — is unusual because more than 60 percent of patients are women.

Among them is Baby Benedicte. Her short life has already been unimaginably difficult.

At one month old, she is underweight, at 2.9 kilograms. And she is alone. Her mother had Ebola, and died giving birth to her. She’s spent the last three weeks of her life in a plastic isolation cube, cut off from most human contact. She developed a fever at eight days old and was transferred to this hospital in Beni, a town of some half-million people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 400 people have been diagnosed with Ebola here since the beginning of August, and more than half of them have died in a nation the size of Western Europe that struggles with insecurity and a lack of the most basic infrastructure and services. That makes this the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history, after the hemorrhagic fever killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2013 and 2016.

This is 10th outbreak to strike the vast country since 1976, when Ebola was first identified in Congo. And this particular outbreak is further complicated by a simmering civil conflict that has plagued this region for more than two decades.

Guido Cornale, UNICEF’s coordinator in the region, says the scope of this outbreak is clear.

“It has become the worst outbreak in Congo, this is not a mystery,” he said.

What is mysterious, however, is the demographics of this outbreak. This time, more than 60 percent of cases are women, says the government’s regional health coordinator, Ndjoloko Tambwe Bathe.

“All the analyses show that this epidemic is feminized. Figures like this are alarming. It’s true that the female cases are more numerous than the male cases,” he said.

Congo, Uganda, ebola, Women
Health workers walk with a boy suspected of having been infected with the Ebola virus, at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, near Congo’s border with Uganda. VOA

Bathe declined to predict when the outbreak might end, though international officials have said it may last another six months. Epidemiologists are still studying why this epidemic is so skewed toward women and children, Cornale said.

“So now we can only guess. And one of the guesses is that woman are the caretakers of sick people at home. So if a family member got sick, who is taking care of him or her? Normally, a woman,” he said.

Or a nurse. Many of those affected are health workers, who are on the front line of battling this epidemic. Nurse Guilaine Mulindwa Masika, spent 16 days in care after a patient transmitted the virus to her. She says it was the fight of her life.

“The pain was enormous, the pain was constant,” she said. “The headache, the diarrhea, the vomiting, and the weakness — it was very, very bad.”

Congo, Ebola, Women
Marie-Roseline Darnycka Belizaire, World Health Organization (WHO) Epidemiology Team Lead, talks to women as part of Ebola contact tracing, in Mangina, Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

For the afflicted, the road to recovery is long and lonely. Masika and her cured colleagues face weeks of leave from work to ensure the risk of infection is gone. In the main hospital in the city of Beni, families who have recovered live together in a large white tent, kept four meters from human contact by a bright orange plastic cordon. They yell hello at their caretakers, who must don protective gear if they want to get any closer.

And for Baby Benedicte, who is tended to constantly by a nurse covered head to toe in protective gear, the future is uncertain. Medical workers aren’t entirely sure where her father is, or if he is going to come for her.

Also Read: Congo Start Trials For Drugs Against Ebola

She sleeps most of the day, the nurse says, untroubled by the goings-on around her. Meanwhile, the death toll rises. (VOA)