A new United Nations loan of over $30 million seeks to boost the social and economic power of rural women in India’s largest pocket of poverty.
Women from an estimated 108,000 poor rural households will be targeted by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) loan, which aims to give women in the Mid-Gangetic Plains of northern India easier access to microfinance and business development services.
The loan agreement was signed yesterday in Rome by Shri Arif Shahid Khan, the Indian Ambassador to Italy, and IFAD President Lennart Båge.
The Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme, which is expected to mobilize more than 6,000 self-help groups thus producing increased productivity and incomes by creating market-based businesses, will cost around $52 million.
The Indo-Gangetic Plain is a large and fertile area covering most of northern and eastern India and is named after the Indus and Ganges twin river systems that drain it.
Women in the Mid-Gangetic Plains experience deeper deprivation than elsewhere in India because of strong patriarchy and rigid caste divisions. As well as increasing access to financial institutions, the programme will encourage women’s increased participation in local government.