J&K Women SHGs contributing greatly on economic, community service fronts amid Covid pandemic

Jammu: Women Self Help Groups in Jammu and Kashmir have greatly contributed in the fight against the Covid -19 pandemic by producing bulk of masks, sanitisers and handwash to meet their increasing demand, besides reaching out the most vulnerable lot and performing varied community services.
In J&K, there are approximately 4.20 lakh woman members of around 42 thousand Self Help Groups (SHGs) formed under the Ministry of Rural Development’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM/JKRLM).
To meet the increased demand for these products, these women have taken up the task of producing masks, sanitizers, hand washing gel cleaning stuff.
Apart from this, the SHGs emerged as the institutions to take lead and play significant role in promoting Social Inclusion & Social Development (SISD) as is happening within the Self-Help Groups, where several initiatives are being taken to reach the most excluded and address issues related to food security, health, and sanitation in the community. For example, they have an activity called “Ek Muthi Chaul” as part of this activity a handful of rice is collected by the SHG members during Covid-19 Combat Battle, which is donated to vulnerable families.
As reported by J&K State Rural Livelihoods Mission around 2000 SHG members are presently involved in the manufacturing of masks and sanitizing provisions.
Women SHG members associated with JK State Rural Livelihood Missions (UMEED) have produced around 10 Lakh masks, 10,000 litres of hand wash and sanitiser.
In Reasi, for instance, SHGs have produced about 1,10,000 masks on the order placed by the district administration. In district Bandipora, poor rural women who were initially engaged in stitching cloths have switched over to sewing masks and have produced over one lakh cotton masks.
Similarly, Women SHG members of JKRLM (UMEED) in Doda District have produced around 10,000 liters of hand wash and sanitiser.
Moreover, women SHG members, who also work as banking correspondents, known as ‘Bank Sakhis’, have continued to provide doorstep banking services to remote areas.
They are distributing pension to the beneficiaries as well as enabling the most vulnerable to access credit into their accounts through direct benefit transfers (DBT).
The contribution of the women SHG members has not only helped in meeting the increased demand for medical provisions, but has also provided the members themselves with some financial relief. The members who were earlier deprived of their daily incomes due to the lockdown are now able to earn around Rs 300-400 per day. Women across J&K started online IEC campaign by using different mediums of communication to cover all the SHG members & their families under social security Schemes like PMJJBY & PMSBY. The Government of India has rolled out two social security schemes, namely, PMJJBY and PMSBY in the country with a view to empower the people financially and provide the social security.
A circular issued by the Finance Department has advised all the employees as well as community members to opt for a subscription to the twin schemes, if they have not done it, by contacting the branch managers or bank Sakhis of UMEED working in different branches of J&K UT in which they maintain their saving accounts so as to secure & renew the social Security insurances Schemes for Fy 2020-21.
Meanwhile, the SHGs are being trained for creating awareness about social distancing and precuations to be followed in the community. They will also suggest practices for maintaining personal hygiene, sanitation and adopting cashless practices. UMEED, a programme spearheaded by the Government of J&K through the J&K Rural Livelihoods Mission Society, has collected more than 100,000 mobile numbers of community members. It is using the Mobile- platform to release voice, text messages and is also addressing the community’s queries regarding COVID-19.
Another key contribution of the women SGHs in J&K is providing sanitary napkins—an essential commodity for women during COVID-19 lockdown.
Women Self-Help Group members make availability of sanitary pads with the contribution from every Village Organization (VO).
It has been observed that women SHGs in J&K UT under UMEED have a gross NPA ratio of 0.001 percent, negligible than the industry average. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the SHGs solvent and recapitalize them so that they have adequate liquidity to lend and play their vital role in the recovery process. Under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) relief package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has doubled the amount of collateral-free loan to Rs 20 lakh for women SHGs to meet their business requirements.

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