Anandi & SSP

Gujarat, India

Women’s Collectives in Rural Communities

India loses £4 billion a year in potential earnings because of adolescent pregnancy, high secondary school dropout rates and joblessness among young women.

In many parts of rural Gujarat, women suffer exclusion from economic activities and the development process. The economy of these communities is heavily based on seasonal agriculture, pastoral farming and fishing in an environment that suffers from climate extremes including droughts and floods.  Many women play a vital role in post-harvest activities in Gujarat. However, without the capital to invest nor the voice to participate in decision-making around local resource distribution, many are unable to build profitability nor protect themselves from exploitation.

In response, GMSP partnered with Anandi (Area Networking and Development Initiatives) and Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) to help women in the poorest and marginalised communities to organise themselves for collective action around key gender and development issues.

Anandi (Area Networking and Development Initiatives)

Anandi has established three women’s collectives across 44 villages, with 12,000 members.  These forums, including women’s saving and credit groups, health governance groups and a fisherwomen cooperative, were created to build women’s income generation capacities, collective voice and leadership in local and state level decision-making processes and have proven to be a powerful tool for building inclusive processes for poverty alleviation. 

Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP)

SSP, meaning Self Education for Empowerment, partners with over 5000 women’s self-help groups with around 72,000 members in 1600 villages across three states in India.  The groups address priority issues such as credit, food security, water and sanitation, health, education and the environment. Again, they do this through establishing savings and credit networks, through demonstration projects, skills training and participation in community planning and other local governance processes.

Since 1995, with GMSP’s support, Anandi and Swayam Shikshan Prayog have reached 44,500 women, children and families in Gujarat.  As a result, women in Gujarat have become more economically independent, healthy, active in village affairs and visible in local elections. GMSP is proud to have supported an integrated, empowerment approach that is designed and lead by its beneficiaries.