Kerala’s anti-poverty mission attracts C’wealth countries

TRIVANDRUM — Several Commonwealth countries have shown interest in replicating Kerala’s poverty mission that has turned around the fortunes of millions of families in the southern Indian state.

By T.k. Devasia

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Published: Mon 21 Mar 2011, 11:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:13 PM

The neighbourhood initiative called Kudumbashree won admiration from these countries when it was presented at the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) at Cardiff in UK last week. Representatives from most of the 52 countries, who attended the session, were keen to study the Kudumbashree model further and replicate it in their respective countries, said Kudumbashree executive director Sarada Muralidharan.

The senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer said the presentation was well-received. The representatives were keen to find out the dynamics of micro-finance processes, the strategies for marketing undertaken and the political dimensions of women negotiating the local development framework. They also showed keen interest in the inclusion of the ultra poor in various strategies, and the opportunities and potential available to local governments to engage poor women to get out of the seemingly impenetrable barriers to economic empowerment.

Many participants evinced their interest in knowing more about the Kudumabshree model, and its role in facilitating local governments to take on this difficult task. There was a great deal of admiration from the participants for the women of Kerala and the policy scenario that had made such a movement for women empowerment possible.

The CLGF conference on ‘Energising Local Economies: Partnership for Prosperous Communities’ had representation from over 52 countries of the Commonwealth from the Asia Pacific, Caribbean and African regions.

Kudumbashree made a presentation ‘Women in Local Economic Development — the Dynamics of Space.’ The audience included administrators, ministers, representatives from UN agencies, local government leaders and academicians from countries like Bahamas, Maun, Canada, Cameron, Swaziland, Fiji islands, Sri Lanka, UK, Nigeria, and South Africa, as well as from international organisations like the International Union of Architects.

“Providing support on access to vacant land, marketing, access to credit, organisation and skills development, and many other aspects in a rich and evolving programme, Kudumbashree helps women set up micro-enterprises in animal husbandry, food processing and many other aspects. The lively debate covered challenges and opportunities from Swaziland to the Bahamas,’’ according to a statement issuedby the organisers of CLGF.

Launched by the Government of Kerala in 1998 for wiping out poverty from the state through concerted community action, Kudumbashree is today one of the largest women-empowering projects in the country with a participation of over 3.7 million women.

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