Share & Care Blog

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International Women's Day 2018: Rural Women Creating Change

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Jharkhand, IndiaToday is International Women's Day, an occasion to celebrate the social, economic, and political achievements of women — and to call for gender equality around the globe. This event is close to our hearts because we at Share & Care work daily to empower women, especially those living in regions where female autonomy is often restricted.

Recently, we teamed up with PRADAN, a renowned NGO, to create and strengthen women collectives in the poorest regions of rural India. These collectives are known as SHGs, or self-help groups.


Stories of Change

To honor the theme of International Women's Day 2018 ("Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women's lives"), we are recognizing the accomplishments of real SHGs and the awe-inspiring women who comprise them.

Creating Change: Collective Bargaining

In one village, women were not allowed to participate in local government planning meetings. In protest, SHG members began disregarding any rules that were made in their absence. When the male government members realized their decisions weren’t being upheld — challenging the legitimacy of the institution itself — they conceded. Now, all women in the village are allowed to participate.

Creating Change: Equal Access to Food

In another village, SHG members noticed an irregularity in the distribution of food for children and pregnant mothers (via a program run by the Ministry of Women & Child Welfare). Banding together, the members objected to block officials about the issue, and the problem has since been resolved.

Creating Change: Protection from Violence

Meera* is a member of a self-help group in Tatijharia block. In her village, violence against women has long gone unreported, and there were virtually no resources for abused women who sought redress or protection. Then one day, Meera’s husband assaulted her, and she took the issue to her fellow SHG members. The women spoke to the couple together, provided counseling, and made the husband promise never to hit Meera again — or else there would be serious consequences. He has since changed his behavior toward Meera, and to date has committed no other acts of violence.


Why Are SHGs So Transformative?

Members of one SHG learning about watermelon cultivation.

Above: Members of one SHG learning about watermelon cultivation.

With the help of Share & Care and our partner NGO, women in SHGs are educated in livelihood subjects such as bookkeeping and sustainable agriculture, as well as in social issues like gender discrimination. They also receive guidance regarding group processes and leadership, with an emphasis on mutual help, in order to deepen their discussions. Workshops revolve around their own real-life experiences, helping them to realize it's not just a dearth of material resources, but also an institutional marginalization, which keeps them in poverty. Additionally, SHGs enhance women’s access to financial institutions and government programs.

SHGs provide women with support and the strength of solidarity to bring about change, and have been proven to strengthen grassroots governance in rural areas.

Looking Toward the Future

Change does not happen overnight. In many cases, progress among SHG members begins simply, with conversations about financial savings and credit. Next, there are conversations about agriculture and village planning, and eventually, critical examinations of patriarchal power inequalities.


Workshops revolve around real-life experiences. They also receive guidance regarding group processes and leadership, with an emphasis on mutual help, in order to deepen their discussions.

Above: Workshops revolve around real-life experiences. They also receive guidance regarding group processes and leadership, with an emphasis on mutual help, in order to deepen their discussions.


We believe in the power of women collectives to confront injustices and and catalyze lasting transformations. We believe they can help India’s poorest families benefit from the tides of progress and escape poverty and deprivation.

Will you join us in supporting them?


YES, I WANT TO EMPOWER WOMEN

*Name changed.

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