At the recently-concluded Unnati Global Forum, Pune-based NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog launched a fellowship programme for 20 rural women. The fellowship aims to identify compelling issues and problems of women in their communities, and implement solutions.
Most of the women chosen for the programme hail from the drought-prone districts of Osmanabad, Solapur, Latur and Washim in Maharashtra.
The programme will provide women with year-long financial support, as well as coaching, mentoring and support from the existing ecosystem of women leaders. Out of the Rs 1 lakh earmarked for each fellowship, an annual stipend of Rs 60,000 will be given to them, while Rs 15,000 will be given as mentoring support and Rs 25,000 is the experimentation fund.
The fellowship programme aims to create a platform for collaborative learning from women grassroots leaders. Speaking at the launch, Padma Vibhushan Dr R Mashelkar said:
Digital technology has the power to empower women like never before. Even the grassroots women now know how best to communicate with each other using the all-pervading technology like mobile phones.
He added that encouraging women towards entrepreneurship gives them economic freedom and self-confidence. “Adversity and aspiration make a perfect combination for success,” he said.
Prema Gopalan, Founder and Executive Director of Swayam Shikshan Prayog, said,
All the 20 women leaders chosen for the Unnati Fellowship Award symbolise the journey of every rural women who is living and working at the grassroots, overcoming their personal crisis and different challenges not only to transform their own lives but the entire community.
She added, We intend to support their dreams with financial support and mentoring. This is just the beginning. With more support coming our way, we will be able to help more women to discover the innate capabilities (Swayam) in them and engage in experiments (Prayog) to transform their communities by solving difficult challenges like climate change, water, girl’s education and health.
The event was attended by actors Mrunal Kulkarni and Sadiya Siddiqui; The Cleaning Corporation of India Senior Vice President Pradeep Naik; Author Yashodhara Katkar; Project Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture, Subhash Chole; Executive Director, Mahagrapes, Sopan Kanchan and SSP board member V C Natarajan.
Swayam Shikshan Prayog is a development-focused organisation that empowers women in under-served communities and offers an action fund of up to Rs 1.25 lakh to five women.
The organisation’s work is centered around low-income climate threatened communities across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Assam and Odisha. Its focus areas include climate resilience and food security, health, water and sanitation, clean energy and climate change, women’s entrepreneurship and leadership. SSP also works in collaboration with organisations like UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, APPI, SIDBI, and NABARD.