Micro-Credit, Poverty and Empowerment: Linking the Triad

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Edited by: Neera Burra, Joy Deshmukh-Ranadive & Ranjani K. Murthy

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Copyright

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    List of Tables

    • 1.1 Profile of Organizations and their Micro-credit Programmes 54
    • 2.1 Access to Loans across Economic Status of Members 77
    • 3.1 Growth in SML's Micro-credit Operations (starting under SHARE and growing into SML) 122
    • 3.2 Loan Products and their Cumulative Relative Share 132
    • 4.1 Comparison of the Daily Routines of a Member and Her Husband 164
    • 4.2 Pattern of Loans Taken by Three Members 175
    • 6.1 Spread of SHGs, 31 March 2001 249
    • 6.2 Financial Overview of SHGs, 31 March 2001 251
    • 6.3 Scenario Projection 278
    • 7.1 Profile of Members and Non-members as per Wealth-ranking Exercise 292
    • 7.2 Purpose of Loans 298
    • 7.3 Average Savings, Loan per Member 304

    List of Boxes

    • 2.1 Debates on Micro-Credit, Social Capital, Feminization of Poverty and Women's Empowerment 63
    • 2.2 Does Access to Loan Lead to Control? 85
    • 2.3 Single Women's Group: Negotiating Identity and Interests in Family and Community 95
    • 2.4 Taking Legal Action for Atrocities against a Dalit Woman: Example from Mahbubnagar 97
    • 2.5 Mahila Bank: Collective Intervention in the Financial Market 100
    • 2.6 Claiming Political Space and Redefining Political Processes: The Case of Elections in Kurnool District 104
    • 2.7 Prabhavatamma: Challenging Gender and Social Norms in Her Life 107
    • 3.1 Men's Opinion on Forming Groups with Men 127
    • 4.1 Achieving New Heights 188
    • 4.2 Vellaiyammal: Rising in spite of Opposition 189
    • 4.3 Discussions with a Block Development Officer in Mayiladumparai, Theni: A Gist 192
    • 5.1 The Case of Gujnoor 216

    List of Abbreviations

    ABMAssistant Branch Manager
    AMArea Manager
    ANMauxillary nurse midwife
    APDPIPAndhra Pradesh District Poverty Initiatives Project
    ASAActivists for Social Action
    BCBackward Caste
    BCGBacille Calmette Guerin
    BMBranch Manager
    BPLBelow Poverty Line
    CASAChurch Auxillary for Social Action
    CBCommercial Bank
    CBPCommunity Banking Programme
    CBPPICommunity-Based Pro-Poor Initiative
    CCDCovenant for Community Development
    CEDAWConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
    CEOChief Executive Officer
    CGTContinuous Group Training
    CVCommunity Volunteer
    DCBDemand Collection and Balance
    DHANDevelopment of Humane Action
    DPIPDistrict Poverty Initiatives Project
    DPTDiptheria, Pertussis and Tetanus
    DRDADistrict Rural Development Agency
    DSSSDiviseema Social Service Society
    DWCRADevelopment of Women and Children in Rural Areas
    ECExecutive Committee
    FCOField Credit Officer
    FGDFocus Group Discussion
    FIFinancial Institution
    FWWBFriends of Women's World Banking
    GDIGender Development Index
    GoAPGovernment of Andhra Pradesh
    HDFCHousing Development Finance Corporation Ltd
    HDIHuman Development Index
    HHHead of Household
    HUDCOHousing and Urban Development Corporation
    ICDSIntegrated Child Development Scheme
    ICICIThe Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation
    IFADInternational Fund for Agricultural Development
    IFPRIInternational Food Policy Research Institute
    IGPIncome Generation Programme
    ILSInternal Learning System
    IMPACTImproving the Impact of Micro-finance on Poverty
    INDNETIndian Network of Micro-credit Practitioners
    IRDPIntegrated Rural Development Programme
    JBYJanashree Bima Yojana
    KAGBKalahandi Anchalik Gramya Bank
    KKVSKadamalai Kalanjiam Vattara Sangam
    LEAPLearning for Empowerment Action through Participation
    LICLife Insurance Corporation
    LPGLiquefied Petroleum Gas
    MDManaging Director
    MACSMutually Aided Cooperative Society
    MC-RILMicro-Credit Ratings India Limited
    MFIMicro-Finance Institution
    MHHMale-Headed Household
    MHHMISmale-headed household management information system
    MKMVSMugavai Kalanjiam Mahalir Vattara Sangam
    MMMahila Mandal
    MMKMahila Mahiti Kendra
    MMSMahila Mandal Samakhya
    MoRDMinistry of Rural Development
    MVFM. Venkatarangaiya Foundation
    NABARDNational Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development
    NBFCNon-Bank Finance Company
    NESANew Entity for Social Action
    NGONon-Governmental Organization
    NIRDNational Institute of Rural Development
    NSSONational Sample Survey Organization
    NTRN.T. Rama Rao
    PDSPublic Distribution System
    PRAParticipatory Rural Appraisal
    PRADANProfessional Agency for Development Action
    PRIPanchayati Raj Institution
    PVKPothigai Vattara Kalanjiam
    RBIReserve Bank of India
    RDTRural Development Trust
    REFLECTRegenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques
    RGVNRashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi
    RMKRashtriya Mahila Kosh
    ROSCARotating Savings and Credit Association
    RRBRegional Rural Bank
    SAARCSouth Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
    SAPAPSouth Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme
    SCScheduled Caste
    SCGSavings Credit Group
    SERPSociety for Elimination of Rural Poverty
    SEWASelf-Employed Women's Association
    SGSYSwarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana
    SHARESociety for Helping Awakening Rural Poor through Education
    SHGSelf-Help Group
    SIDBISmall Industries Development Bank of India
    SIMSHARE India MACS
    SMLSHARE Micro-finance Limited
    SPARCSociety for Promotion of Area Resource Centres
    SSPSwayam Shikshan Prayog
    STScheduled Tribe
    TBATrained Birth Attendant
    TBFThe Bridge Foundation
    TNCDWTamil Nadu Corporation for the Development of Women
    UNDPUnited Nations Development Programme
    VDCVillage Development Committee
    VNAVeterinary Assistant
    VOVillage Organization
    WHHWomen-Headed Household

    Glossary

    agarbattiincense stick
    ammavadichild care centre
    anganwadichild welfare centre of the government (present name)
    balwadichild welfare centre of the government (past name)
    basaviWoman dedicated under the devadasi custom to a god/goddess in a temple
    bastisettlement
    beedilocally-made, usually non-filter cigarette
    chaptisee roti
    chulhacooking oven
    coolieporter
    daismidwives
    dalfood preparation from pulses
    dalitoppressed class, particularly refers to Scheduled Castes
    devadasilit. ‘female servant of god’, a practice of marrying girls to gods/goddesses
    dosacrêpe made with rice and pulses
    dupattaIndian long scarf, generally made of cotton or silk
    Gollas and MudrasTwo communities classified as socially and economically ‘backward’ by the government
    gramvillage
    gram panchayatvillage local self-governance unit
    gram sabhavillage assembly
    Grama Vidiyal‘Dawn of the Rural Poor’
    idlipatty made of steamed rice and pulses
    JamaatArabic word for ‘community’
    joginisee basavi
    kalanjiammud bin for grain storage, used by DHAN to refer to savings and credit self-help groups
    kiranagrocery
    laddooa sweetmeat usually prepared for special occasions
    mahalirwomen
    Mahalir Kutirwomen's space
    Mahasabhaforum for all groups to come together
    Mahila Bankwomen's bank
    Mahila courtswomen-run courts (not legal)
    Mahila Mahiti Kendraswomen's information centres
    Mahila Samakhyaeducation for women's equality
    mahuaflower with medicinal properties, also used for distilling liquor
    Malas, MadigasTwo communities under the Scheduled (caste) list of the government, normally more backward than backward castes
    mandweight of approx. 4 kg
    mandalsecond layer of administration and local self-governance unit, comprising a few gram panchayats
    melavafair
    Muthi Chawalliterally, ‘handful of rice’, as used in the book, refers to a grain bank
    neemsc. name Azadirachta indica, also called margosa
    paanbetel leaf
    padayatrafoot marches
    Parvati Parameshwarsee joginis
    patelupper-caste group, also used to refer to a person from the upper caste
    perecherlabranch (Telugu)
    puccafirm/permanent
    punlukura or gonkurasour greens
    Rashtriya Mahila KoshNational Women's Fund
    rotiround, thin and unleavened Indian bread
    sahukarmoneylender
    samvad sahayakvillage communication assistant
    sarpanchhead of gram panchyat
    Stree Shakti Puraskarwomen's empowerment award
    Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar YojanaLit. Golden Jubilee Village Self-employment Plan
    swarozgarself-employment
    taiaunt
    talukathird layer of administration and local self-governance, comprising a few blocks or mandals
    thittamscheme
    vayalagamstank farmers' associations
    Vidyadeepamlamp of education
    Yojanaplan
    zamindarlandlord
    Zilla ParishadDistrict Council, an elected local body

    Foreword

    Around the globe, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) seeks to promote approaches that focus on reducing human poverty, emphasizing the importance of equity, social inclusion, women's empowerment and human rights for poverty reduction. A key priority is to make a pivotal difference in reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half within 2015, the first and perhaps the most critical Millennium Development Goal of all.

    Efficient financial systems are vital for the prosperity of a community and a nation as a whole. To ensure that poor people are included in the benefits of development, it is necessary that these vast numbers have consistent access to financial services, access that can translate into a key element of economic growth and poverty alleviation. However, micro-finance is much more than simply an income generation tool. By directly empowering poor people, particularly women, it has become one of the key driving mechanisms towards meeting Millennium Development Goals. The UNDP-assisted South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme (SAPAP) pilot project in three districts of Andhra Pradesh that was initiated in 1996, relied on a three-pronged strategy of social mobilization of the poor, skill development and capital formation. A majority of the poor mobilized under the programme were women. The state government has since scaled up this approach to cover all its districts. UNDP further extended its support to the state for micro-finance and social mobilization under the Government of India's Community-Based Pro-Poor Initiative (CBPPI) from 1997 to 2001. The year 2005, declared the International Year of Microcredit, provides us with an excellent opportunity to showcase best practices, share ideas on new and innovative uses of micro-credit and micro-finance schemes in broadening choices for the poor. This study is a contribution in that direction.

    The essential goal is to strengthen and spread the word on available and viable micro-financial services, which offer the possibility to many to improve their own situations through their own efforts. Micro-credit and micro-finance will, however, reach the maximum number of poor clients with the optimal effect only when they are recognized as a national priority, integrated into the financial sector, and complemented by measures for skill development and social mobilization.

    The case studies presented in this volume highlight the need for an integrated approach to micro-credit and micro-finance. The analysis of the data from the cases presented here show that holistic approaches to micro-credit and micro-finance are an important part of the answer to poverty alleviation. However, micro initiatives have to be backed by a pro-poor macro policy environment. Mainstream financial institutions have a major role to play in providing financial services to the poor and need to respond in a number of different ways, if the challenge of poverty alleviation has to be taken up. Furthermore, poverty is gendered, with women being at the bottom of the poverty scale, and microcredit initiatives must focus on ways of empowering them.

    It is my great pleasure as the Resident Representative of UNDP in India to support the production of this volume during the International Year of Micro-credit. This is a critical time to renew our shared commitment to the reduction of poverty, and to understand the role micro-finance plays in doing this.

    MaxineOlson, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator

    Foreword

    The book is a collection of six case studies of governmental and quasi-governmental organizations initiated by UNDP and ICICI Bank to assess the impact of micro-finance activities on women's empowerment and poverty reduction in India.

    The micro-finance institutions studied here aim to alleviate the poverty and vulnerability of their members. The case studies were based on the work of the following institutions: Activists for Social Action (ASA), Andhra Pradesh; Development of Humane Action (DHAN) Foundation, Tamil Nadu; SHARE Micro-finance Limited (SML), Andhra Pradesh; Swayam Sikshan Prayog (SSP), Maharashtra; South Asia Poverty Alleviation Project (SAPAP), Andhra Pradesh and Lokadrusti, Orissa.

    The project undertaken in this volume becomes critical in the context of the debate on South Asian experiences in micro-credit and the impact of such interventions. It was aimed at identifying the contribution of ‘economic empowerment’ in the overall context of ‘women's empowerment’ and also to understand the type of social mobilization strategies suitable for sustainable empowerment.

    The researchers have adopted different methods in the case studies to explore the empowerment and poverty outputs of micro-credit. The findings of the case studies have been placed within a framework that links issues of poverty with those of empowerment and illustrates how micro-credit could be analysed in terms of its impact on those issues.

    The book studies and evaluates women's empowerment at individual, collective (group) and wider (societal) levels. At the individual level, the evaluative measures of the framework bring out issues of access and control, and access to labour and income are identified as critical. The measures also recognize that control over labour, income, mobility (physical and social) and their own bodies are vital to women's empowerment. At the collective level, issues of access to, and control over, political spaces, consciousness, collective strength, visibility and recognition for women's groups have been emphasized. At wider levels, the framework points to the need to track changes in the macro-economic framework, and in poverty profiles of village- and community-level institutions.

    Overall, the book attempts to establish the relationship between social mobilization, micro-credit and women's empowerment and goes on to evaluate potential impacts of ‘micro-credit’ vis-à-vis ‘micro-credit plus’ approaches on women's empowerment. It also provides a comprehensive literature review on the theoretical and empirical research conducted in the area, specifically on the concept and processes of women's empowerment and reduction of household and individual (women's) poverty.

    ICICI Bank's Social Initiatives Group and UNDP commissioned these studies with a view to understanding the impact of micro-credit interventions. While this is a good beginning, further rigorous research on the mechanisms of transmission between access to credit, and empowerment and poverty alleviation is required. This book will aid practitioners, banks, funding agencies and the government in getting a sense of the social returns of micro-credit interventions.

    ICICI Bank

    Preface

    This book brings together case studies commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ICICI Bank to assess the impact of micro-credit activities on women's empowerment. The Human Development Reports and other United Nations/World Bank reports identify South Asia as one of the most deprived regions in the world. South Asia has the largest number of people in the world living in absolute poverty, which includes 43 per cent of the developing world's population. Sixty per cent of these are women, with limited access to basic needs. The greatest burden of human deprivation and poverty, illiteracy and health-related problems fall on its women.1

    In India, as in many other countries, ensuring women's access to credit through micro-credit schemes is a major component of strategies for both poverty alleviation and women's empowerment. Thousands of women's self-help groups (SHGs) have been set up across the country by NGOs and through government programmes, such as the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK), the Indira Mahila Yojana, and the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY). Micro-credit through women's SHGs is also a central element of the development vision outlined in the Tenth Five-year Plan.

    1 UNIFEM, 1999, Carrying the Beijing Torch in South Asia. India is ranked 127th in the Human Development Report 2004, with a Human Development Index (HDI) value of 0.595. The Maldives ranks first in the South Asian region, with an HDI value of 0.752.

    However, the experience of women's groups, NGOs and government agencies involved in implementing micro-credit programmes indicates that their outcomes are dependent on a range of complex factors. A rigorous analysis of these experiences and the lessons derived from them is essential to maximize the impact of micro-credit interventions. While the impact of micro-credit on income poverty has been extensively studied and documented, there are very few studies that explore the extent to which such programmes have been able to facilitate non-economic dimensions of empowerment for women.

    The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India, in association with the UNDP, initiated a whole range of ‘Community-Based Pro-Poor Initiatives’ between 1997 and 2004. Under this programme, a number of NGOs were supported to strengthen self-help initiatives through micro-credit and women's empowerment. They were supported through capacity-building programmes, training in income generation activities, constructing water-harvesting structures, and through the provision of material and social assistance for land development, education, health and other non-income-related issues.

    Poverty is not merely a question of lack or dearth of income, but also of marginalization, deprivation and exclusion. Eradication of poverty therefore requires sufficient attention towards these non-income-related issues as well.

    It was in this context that the UNDP, in partnership with ICICI Bank, decided to commission case studies of the work done by some of its partners, such as the South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme (SAPAP) based in Andhra Pradesh; Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), an NGO based in Maharashtra; DHAN (Development of Humane Action) Foundation, an NGO based in Tamil Nadu; and Lokadrusti, an NGO based in Orissa to assess the extent to which micro-credit had facilitated women's empowerment. In addition, ICICI Bank felt it would be useful to document the experience of at least two major micro-finance institutions to provide a comparative picture. SHARE Micro-finance Limited (SML), based in Andhra Pradesh, and Activists for Social Action (ASA), based in Tamil Nadu, were selected for further research on this issue.

    These studies are crucial in the context of the debate on South Asian experiences in micro-credit and its impact. Organizations in India like the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), the Annapurna Mahila Mandal and the Working Women's Forum have already demonstrated the feasibility of providing small loans to poor women, primarily to support small entrepreneurial ventures, and have established, without doubt, that access to credit is vital to women's ability to earn an income. The extent to which access to micro-credit alone has led to women's wider status and autonomy is still not clear.

    It is commonplace now for micro-credit to be increasingly hailed as a panacea for poverty alleviation. While micro-credit has, in some circumstances, contributed positively to women's empowerment and helped extremely poor women survive economic crises in the short term, it is now increasingly recognized that micro-credit interventions have concentrated only on the economic aspects of poverty and not addressed its non-economic dimensions. It has been rightly argued that since some credit programmes foster group formation and enable women to generate income, they offer potential for both political and economic empowerment. However, since credit by itself cannot overcome patriarchal systems of control at household and community levels, this potential is not always realized.

    Micro-credit works when other empowerment strategies are included as part of social mobilization. These strategies have included assisting women to have increased control over their incomes and resources, helping women to define their own priorities, and ensuring their participation in decision-making at various levels: household, community, region and state.

    The primary aim of commissioning these studies was to understand the role of social mobilization and micro-credit for women's empowerment. The Social Initiatives Group of the ICICI Bank backed these studies with a view to understanding the impact of micro-credit interventions, as evident from the case studies in the book.

    The six chapters presented here relate ethnographic case studies at the micro level with broader issues of gender mainstreaming, equality and justice at the macro level. Both NGOs and quasi-governmental organizations have been involved in the six case studies. The documentation has tried to focus on the ‘voices of the poor’. The studies have, however, been unable to address all issues in their entirety. For instance, how do the benefits of micro-credit and consequent women's empowerment filter down to the girl child? There are some reasons for this: at one level, there was not enough time to tackle all research questions; at times, the women themselves were not forthcoming with these details; and some studies were done with micro-finance institutions, which are not necessarily NGOs. Further documentation and in-depth research remains a future aim of such works. Yet, these studies throw light on the role of economic empowerment for the overall empowerment of women, and the kinds of social mobilization strategies required for empowerment to be sustainable under differing conditions.

    These case studies were commissioned in 2001 and discussed in a workshop held at New Delhi in January 2002. The participants included the case study writers and the NGOs, as well as a large number of experts, practitioners, micro-finance institutions and government departments. The studies were revised on the basis of the discussions.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the participating organizations which provided facilities for the consultants to visit them and learn about their work. Without such collaboration, these studies would not have been possible. I wish to thank Dr Anuradha Rajivan, Ranjani K. Murthy, Soma Kishore Parthasarathy, K. Raju, Amitha Kamath, Shashi Rajagopalan, Veena Padia and Dr Kalpana Sankar for their meticulous research and analysis. Given the framework of the studies, it was not easy to keep the focus of the research.

    My former colleague, Dr Kalyani Menon-Sen, provided valuable inputs in the conceptualization of the studies and facilitation of the workshop. Asha Swarup, former Joint Secretary, MoRD, Government of India, was always an enthusiastic supporter of this project, deeply interested in the ethnographic case studies and the recommendations that emerged from these presentations. But for her support to the ‘Community-Based Pro-Poor Initiatives Programme’, these studies would never have been commissioned. ICICI Bank, with its commitment to supporting pro-poor micro-credit policies and strengthening its public–private partnership, was very generous with its grant. Bikram Duggal and Kartikeya Saboo of the Bank were committed and interested participants throughout the process, reading and commenting on earlier drafts—their inputs were invaluable.

    Joy Deshmukh-Ranadive and Ranjani K. Murthy, co-editors of this volume, took on the responsibility of putting the papers together—this volume owes a great debt to their efforts and time, and would not have come together without their efforts. Finally, I would like to thank all my UNDP colleagues for their organizational and administrative support, and SAPAP for providing additional funding support for the workshop and one of the case studies.

    NeeraBurra, Assistant Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme
  • About the Editors and Contributors

    The Editors

    Neera Burra is Assistant Resident Representative and Senior Social Development Adviser at the Sustainable Energy and Environment Division (SEED) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India Office, New Delhi. A sociologist by training, she obtained her Ph.D. from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. She has previously been with the International Labour Organization (ILO) as National Expert in its women's programme (1988–93) and with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) as Programme Manager for South Asia (1993–95). Dr Burra has been closely involved with NGOs and CBOs working on micro-credit and women's empowerment for the last 15 years. She has also worked extensively on the issues of child labour and education and was recently awarded a post-doctoral fellowship by the Globalization and Human Rights Programmes of the University of Chicago to study the impact of globalization on child labour.

    Dr Burra's current interests are in natural resource management for poverty eradication with a strong thrust on micro-credit, women's empowerment and poverty eradication. She has published extensively in the field of child labour, and has also written on watershed development, women's empowerment and micro-credit.

    Joy Deshmukh-Ranadive is Senior Fellow at the Centre for Women's Development Studies (CWDS), New Delhi. She incorporates a multidisciplinary approach to theorizing issues in gender studies, and following her Ph.D. dissertation—which was on ‘Power in Economics: A Study of Classical and Neoclassical Thought’—in the mid-1980s, she has remained interested in the concept of power. Her book, Space for Power, Women's Work and Family Strategies, presents a conceptual framework for analysing power and empowerment in the context of gender. Another area of her interest is human rights, and Dr Deshmukh-Ranadive has worked on issues related to the Human Right to Food and the Right to Housing, besides writing concept papers that deconstruct the meanings of these rights and conducting workshops and training on economic, social and cultural human rights.

    Dr Deshmukh-Ranadive has done considerable work on micro-credit and self-help groups in India, particularly in the state of Andhra Pradesh, as also worked on issues of structural adjustment and globalization.

    Ranjani K. Murthy is an independent researcher based in Chennai whose areas of interest have been gender, poverty and health for the past two decades. Through her work with MYRADA (1984–88) and with Initiatives: Women in Development (IWID, 1991–94), as well as by conducting independent research, she has gathered grassroots knowledge along with experience in policy analysis, capacity building and impact assessment. She has carried out policy and impact assessment studies with a focus on gender and poverty in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam, Moldova and Sudan (for UN organizations and for national and international bodies which fund NGOs), and has prepared a global literature review on reproductive health service accountability within health sector reforms (for the former Women's Health Project, South Africa). Ms Ranjani Murthy was also a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex (1994). Her published books include Indian NGOs and their Capacity Building in the 1990s (1997, co-author); Building Women's Capacities: Experiences in Gender Transformation (Sage, 2001, editor); and Denial and Distress: Gender, Poverty and Human Rights in Asia (2003, co-author).

    The Contributors

    Amitha Kamath is Project Officer at the Centre for World Solidarity and looks into the gender aspects of development projects, like watershed development, joint forest management and dalit programmes. She did her post-graduation in social work and emerged a university topper. She has also secured gold medals in courses on farm management and soil water conservation. Ms Kamath has previously worked with Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN) and as Project Secretary (Gender) for the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP).

    Veena Padia has over 25 years of experience in the development and the banking sectors. Beginning her career at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and the UTI and Dena Banks, she has been the State Program Director of Mahila Samakhya, an autonomous body under the Education Department, Government of Gujarat, and has also worked in earthquake-affected areas as Project Director for the Women's Livelihood Restoration Project, supported by the Asian Development Bank and implemented by the Commissioner's Office, Women and Child Development Department.

    Soma Kishore Parthasarathy obtained her M.Phil. in social planning from the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad, where her pioneering work on community participation won her accolades. She has worked in various capacities to integrate gender concerns in development over the past two decades, including a stint with the Government of India as a gender trainer and policy specialist. Her work ranges from capacity development to organizational strategy and advocacy in South Asia related to gender, education, natural resources, livelihoods and organizational development issues. She currently advises Nirantar, a feminist NGO based in Delhi, on its research and advocacy initiatives and remains deeply associated with hill women's issues through the SKS Women's Forum in Uttaranchal.

    Shashi Rajagopalan is an activist and an organizational development consultant, who has worked for nearly three decades among disadvantaged rural and urban communities in India and abroad in the fields of health, education, disaster management, race relations and financial and commodity cooperatives. She has also been a member of the Brahm Perkash Committee which initiated cooperative legal reforms in the country.

    Anuradha Rajivan currently works with the United Nations Development Programme. She has previously worked in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and taught courses in Economics at the Universities of Delhi and Southern California, besides being involved in the implementation of micro-finance and related policy in Asia and Africa. Her interests are in the areas of human nutrition and food security, and trade and regional integration. She has authored books and articles on development issues and written features and short stories for young children.

    K. Raju is an IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh Cadre and is currently Commissioner, Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh. Over the past decade he has made significant contribution to poverty reduction strategies and programmes in the state. As National Project Coordinator of the UNDP-assisted South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme (SAPAP), he initiated sustainable approaches to poverty reduction through the social mobilization of the poor. Mr Raju is also the CEO of SERP, and has scaled up SAPAP's strategy of social mobilization and community empowerment for poverty reduction in Andhra Pradesh.

    Kalpana Sankar is Chief Executive Officer of Hand in Hand, Tamil Nadu, an NGO based in Sweden, which works in the field of elimination of child labour and women's empowerment. She has been involved with the self-help movement of women for nearly a decade and has worked as Monitoring and Evaluation Officer under the IFAD-assisted Tamil Nadu Women's Development Project. She has also prepared the concept note for the Tamil Nadu Empowerment and Poverty Reduction Project, which has been included in the World Bank's lending programme.


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