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Kudumbashree A Brief History
Various forms of micro finance practices have been in existence in Kerala from early days. When the concept of Self Help Group was introduced in Kerala in the 1980s, it was quick to gather momentum. In the early nineties a community led poverty identification format was developed as part of the Alappuzha UBSP Programme. By this time the NABARD promoted SHG, linkage banking programme had established itself as a viable micro finance model.
In 1994, the CBNP project of Malappuram tried to assimilate these experiences and develop a women based community structure for service delivery of government programmes. The 73rd & 74th constitutional amendments strengthened PRIs and ULBs.
Shortly afterwards, the People's Plan Campaign for decentralised Governance created strong local self governments (Panchayaths and Municipalities) in the State. Kudumbashree was launched in 1998 as a community network that would work in tandem with local self governments for poverty eradication and women empowerment.
"To eradicate absolute poverty in ten years through concerted community action under the leadership of local governments, by facilitating organization of the poor for combining self-help with demand-led convergence of available services and resources to tackle the multiple dimensions and manifestations of poverty, holistically."
There are two distinguishing characteristics to Kudumbashree which set it apart from the usual SHG model of empowerment. These are:
- The universality of reach – from its very inception Kudumbashree has attempted to bring every poor woman in the state within its fold, as a consequence of which today Kudumbashree is present in every village panchayat and municipality, and in nearly every ward, colony and hamlet. The sheer spread is mind boggling, and it is only because the local community of women drive the system that it has managed to persevere.
- The scope of community interface in local governance – the functioning of Kudumbashree is tied up to the development initiatives of the local government be it for social infrastructure, welfare or right based interventions or for employment generation. From food security to health insurance, from housing to enterprise development, from the national wage employment programme to the jagratha samiti, every development experience depends on Kudumbashree to provide the community interface.
It is using these opportunities that Kudumbashree strives to convert a microfinance led financial security model into a more comprehensive model of local economic development.