Micro-finance holds the key for poor women, according to May Kidd, president of the Associated Country Women of the World, who was in city as part of the 27th Triennial conference of the organisation that was held in Chennai recently. The ACWW, one of the largest organisations for rural women in the world, has been funding projects for women across the globe.
Speaking to CE, May Kidd pointed out that micro-credit provided a solution to the biggest hurdle that women had when it came to empowerment, lack of property. “When it comes to poor women, lack of property is a huge stumbling block . Even in India, property is mostly in the name of the man. Hence women have nothing to mortgage, no security for repayment. Owing to this, banks are extremely reluctant to give credit to women and hence starting an enterprise becomes difficult. With micro-credit this problem can be resolved,” she said.
Women from across the world have been taking to micro-credit in a big way. “It doesn’t have to be large projects. Small projects that are suitable for the area can make a huge difference in the lives of the women,” she said.
Giving examples from various parts of the world, May pointed out in an African war-torn village, where women took to micro-credit to finance a project for agriculture on a small piece of land. “After they got the yield, the women divided it, so that they kept one part for their consumption, one portion for selling, and one portion to help a neighbouring village, one portion as buffer stock and another to store the seeds. Their idea was to start a seed bank at the village, run by them, where studies could be undertaken,” she said.
In another instance, a group of rural women from a secluded village in Eastern Europe had started a tailoring business.
“For one of the women, who had started the tailoring business, it not only meant that they could have a little tailoring shop of their own complete with a changing room, it also meant that she could educate her daughter. So even when the enterprise is small, its impact is larger,” she said.
But even as there was empowerment on one hand, there was also violence that was continuing unabated, she added.
“Wherever you go, be it developing countries or the developed countries, poor countries or rich countries, violence against women continues everywhere. Moreover, women across these countries, continue to be reluctant to report it especially when it happens within the family. There is a sense of shame that stops them from reporting the violence that they suffer within their homes,” she said.