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Self Help Groups Empower Women

 Nagesh Thakur

Women empowerment has been on priority agenda of the state government. A number of incentives being given to them through Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the state have gone a long way in their socio-economic upliftment. Self Help Groups are playing a pivotal role in women empowerment in the state. Thanks to the assistance being provided by the state government to them under various schemes, poor rural women are finding a solution to their unending tales of misery. Encouraged by the officials of Indo-German Changar Project, women of Samridhi Self Help Group, Palampur in Kangra district have carved a niche for themselves and have become a role model for other to follow. These women have empowered themselves by preparing pickle and chutney from common fruits available in plenty around homes and forests of Himachal. The journey of Samridhi began with the technical and financial support provided by the Indo-German Changer Eco-Development Project. The aim was to change the destiny of the women of Palampur and Bhatiyat regions in 1995-96. Inputs, besides technical guidance worth Rs 10 lakh, were provided by the project to the cooperative society. The idea was conceived and thus started a journey which has now transformed the lives of numerous women who are no longer dependent and are masters of their destiny. The women have expertise in pickle and chutney making and their product now has reached to almost every home of Himachal. The group has now turned into a society which is today supporting and strengthening the financial condition of various families.

‘Samridhi’ is All Women Group

Journey of 16 Member Group to 300 Member Society

True to its name, Palampur-based Samridhi has brought prosperity to rural areas. The group has brought a radical change in the socio-economic lot of womenfolk in Kangra district. The first women’s cooperative of the state, Samridhi, has emerged a  pioneer in the last 17 years. The organization was constituted in 1996 with encouragement from Indo-German Changar Project officials as a self help group. In fact, Samridhi is a lone institution in the state which is owned and managed solely by rural women. Not only do the women get wages for their labour and as producers but the final profits too are used for the common good. In past 17 years, Samridhi has made a remarkable progress. This is evident from the fact that in 1995-96, when this organisation came into existence, there were only 16 women members and the production was limited to only 375 kilogram per annum. During the year 2000-2001, the production touched 28,000 kg per annum, while number of the women members has risen from 16 to 182. Today the production number has scaled to 50 tonne while the 16-member Self Help Group has turned into a 300-member cooperative society. Products being made by Samridhi include chutneys of amla and mango, pickle of mango, dheuin, garlic, ghanhilai, green chillies, amla, Garlic and sweet lime. Even candies of amla, citrus and ginger are being produced.

The society provides employment opportunities to numerous women and uncontaminated products to its customers. The women associated with the society has now become confident and self reliant.

-Veena Devi, President, Samridhi  

Women associated with Smaridhi have become economically stronger and are improving the life of their family too. The society has opened new doors of success for the hard working women.

 – Santosh Kumari, Accountant, Smaridhi

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