UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday called for quick implementation of the Congress-led alliance’s ambitious National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), even as she claimed that it was the largest women’s empowerment programme in the world.
Speaking at a function here on the occasion of the ‘Ajeevika Diwas’, the Congress supremo said that the NRLM programme had convincingly proved that it had helped women to break free from the shackles of poverty.
“In the next 10 years, we have to bring seven crore families out of poverty. Our purpose is clear. We have to strengthen the women self-help groups (SHG) and their instruments financially,”she said.
And Sonia, while emphasising that the empowerment of the weaker sections of society and women has been the main focus of the UPA Government, said that by adopting the ‘Ajeevika mission’ many states had proved that the women SHGs could usher in economic and social changes.
According to the Congress chief, women are the worst victims of poverty and social exploitation, especially those belonging to the minorities and SC/ST sections.
“For the financial empowerment of women, we still have to do much more to increase their skills by getting more loans so that they can get new opportunities of livelihood,” the Congress president said.
Pointing that the Centre had initiated several measures for the social and financial empowerment of women in Jammu and Kashmir, through the instrument of women SHGs, Sonia said, “In the next five years,we hope to take the programme to two-thirds of the families in the state.”
“I have been told that its result is very positive and we will see its many successes soon.
“Similarly, a special package is being prepared for the North-Eastern states and hilly states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh,” she added.
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Ministers of State (MoS) Pradeep Jain and Lalchand Kataria were also present at the function held to celebrate the NRLM’s second anniversary.