Lakhpati Didi Scheme Expanded: Finance Minister Targets Uplifting 3 Crore Rural Women
In a significant announcement during the presentation of the interim budget, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman revealed the government's intent to extend the reach of the 'Lakhpati Didi' scheme, increasing the target from 2 crore to 3 crore women. This initiative focuses on empowering women through sustainable incomes, particularly through Self-Help Groups (SHGs).
Empowering 'Lakhpati Didis':
The 'Lakhpati Didi' scheme, which initially aimed to benefit 2 crore women, has witnessed remarkable success. Sitharaman highlighted the transformative impact of 83 lakh SHGs with nine crore women, stating that nearly one crore women have already become 'Lakhpati Didis' – those who earn a sustainable income of at least ₹one Lakh per annum per household.
Sitharaman expressed enthusiasm about the achievements, stating, "Buoyed by the success, it has been decided to enhance the target for Lakhpati Didi from 2 crore to 3 crore."
Ridhima Kansal, Director of Rosemoore, welcomed the Finance Minister's focus on financially empowering women. Kansal acknowledged the positive step of augmenting the goal for bank SHG loans under the 'Lakhpati Didi' scheme to 3 crore.
However, she emphasized the need for a more cohesive approach, addressing challenges faced by urban working women, such as affordable childcare infrastructure, safe transport, flexible work setups, and overcoming unconscious biases in recruitment and growth.
Kansal stated, "Beyond microfinance schemes, we need more affordable childcare infrastructure, safe transport, flexible work setups, cracking unconscious biases in recruitment and growth – the obstacles that constrain women's labor force potential even today."
Background and Achievements of Lakhpati Didi scheme:
The 'Lakhpati Didi' initiative focuses on encouraging each SHG household to engage in multiple livelihood activities, coupled with value chain interventions, resulting in a sustainable income of ₹one Lakh or more per year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had previously announced the government's collaboration with Women's SHGs with the aim of creating 2 crore 'Lakhpati Didis' in villages.
Key achievements of the initiative include:
Mobilizing 9.54 crore women into 87.39 lakh SHGs.
Facilitating community-driven approaches with the training of nearly 4 lakh Community Resource Persons.
Providing cumulative community investment support of approximately ₹33,497.62 Crore.
Accessing nearly ₹6.96 lakh crore of bank credit by SHGs since 2013-14.
Mission's Objectives and Strategies:
The mission aims to achieve its objectives through four core components: social mobilization, financial inclusion, sustainable livelihoods, and social inclusion. Geographically, it has covered 7091 blocks across 742 districts, excluding Delhi and Chandigarh.
The strategy includes social mobilization, institution building, capitalization support, SHG-bank linkage, deployment of SHG members as Business Correspondent Agents, and livelihood promotion.
The expansion of the Lakhpati Didi scheme holds immense potential to empower millions of rural women, fostering financial independence, creating entrepreneurial opportunities, and contributing to overall rural development. The government's continued focus on women's empowerment through targeted initiatives like this one is a positive step towards building a more inclusive and equitable future for India.
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