Mahalir Thittam (Empowering Women Through Self Help Groups)

Funded By   : Tamilnadu Women Development Corporation, Tamilnadu State Government.
Primary Target : Women in marginalized groups
Area of work : Chellampatti, Vadipatti, Melur, Kottampatti and Thirupparankundram blocks of Madurai district.

The project was initialized with a focus on ensuring social and economical upliftment of rural women. The project area includes Chellampatti, Vadipatti, Thirupparankundram, Melur and Kottampatti in Madurai district.

One of the major difficulties faced by women is that of debt-crisis and moneylenders. In order to help them tackle this problem, the project team organizes women into Self Help Groups and provides them various trainings including Animator & Representative (A&R) training, Entrepreneur Development Programme (EDP) training and Vocational Training Programme (VTP). These trainings are aimed at preparing the women to face the world with confidence and to tackle their own social and political problems and ultimately boosting them to undertake entrepreneurial ventures, thereby helping them to lead an independent and struggle-free life. At present, 1,072 SHGs are functioning with a total membership of 16,080 with the assistance of the organization.

As a part of the project activities, Health education is provided to adolescent girls. AIDS awareness programmes are conducted and medical camps are organized frequently.

In a move to make the lives of the local population more comfortable, the organization made arrangemnets for pucca houses this year. Moreover, 8 families received free LPG supply from the government with the help of the organization. Another notable activity was the establishment of a training centre for SHGs in Melakkal in 2004.

To further enhance the services to the community, it is being planned to set up banks run by women in the future. Further, the groups are being encouraged to set up business under the administrative responsibility of the organization.

Imparting health knowledge and organizing health related exhibitions for the benefit of adolescent girls, conducting Gender training and HIV/AIDS training for the youth also find place in the future plans. Organizing meetings of the village elders, schools - staff, hospital staff etc and telecasting documentaries/ informative feature films etc. once in a year to public are thought to be effective ways to share the organisation’s work and gaining community support.

The members from Panchayath level federations and Block level federations have bagged first prizes in District level competitions organised by the district administration. They received the prizes from the Deputy Chief Minister of Tamilnadu.