• The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts of 1993 mark historic events in the advancement of Indian women as they ensure 1/3 of total seats for women in all elected offices of local bodies, in rural areas and urban areas. In the rural areas, about 1 million women are going to emerge as leaders/decision makers at the grass-root level and enter into public life through the existing 0.25 million bodies. Of these, about 75,000 will be chairpersons at the village. Block and district levels. Women have thus been brought to the center-stage in the nation’s efforts to strengthen democratic institutions. The groundswell that is likely to build up as a result will undoubtedly influence of development and impact on the lives of women.
• The process of election to these bodies is continuing throughout the country and will be completed shortly. A massive country-wide training programme has been launched since 1993 to give leadership training to the women elected representatives.
Poverty Eradication Programmes
Under various poverty eradication programmes of the rural development section, 40% of benefits have been reserved for women below the poverty line. Families living ‘below poverty line’ are those whose annual income is about Rs. 6000-11000.
Mahila Samriddhi Yojana (MSY) (1993)
• The MSY is a major initiative to empower women by raising their economic status. It aims to promote amongst rural women the habit to save and improve their financial assets, apart from enabling them to exercise greater control over their own household resources. The scheme offers facilities of small deposits, with attractive rates of interest, through the network of post offices. About 77 lakh accounts with a total deposit of RS.72.67 crore have been opened so far.
National Credit Fund for Women (1993)
• To redress the grievances of poor and asset less women relating to non-accessibility to formal credit systems, the National Credit Fund for Women called “Rashtriya Mahila Kosh” has been set up. It has an initial corpus of RS. 310million. it will extend credit to poor women at reasonable rates of interest through non-Governmental Organizations working in the rural areas. So far 47 projects have been supported with a total credit of RS. 8.88 Crore at the grass-roots level, benefiting around 60,000 women. The ultimate objective of the Fund is to help develop a national network of credit services for women in the informal sector to boost self-employment, micro enterprises and small businesses.