Swayam Sidha Scheme
It is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), Government of India. It is an integrated women empowerment programme (IWEP) initiated in 2001 by merging Mahila Samriddhi Yojana and recasting Indira Mahila Yojana (IMY was the first Self Help Group based women’s empowerment programme of Ministry of WCD launched in 1995-96) and including other sectoral programmes meant for women empowerment. The objectives of the scheme include empowerment through creation of confidence and awareness among members of SHGs regarding women’s status, health, nutrition, education, sanitation and hygiene, legal rights, economic upliftment and other social, economic and political issues; strengthening and institutionalizing the savings habit among rural women and their control over economic resources; improving access of women to micro credit; involvement of women in local level planning; and convergence of services of Department of Women and Child Development and other Departments. The long term objective of the scheme is to achieve an all round empowerment of women, both social and economic empowerment. Direct access to and control over resources through income generating activities would be the main purpose of women SHGs under Swayam Sidha.
The most important component of the programme is the formulation, implementation and monitoring of block-specific composite projects for 4-5 years. The groups thus formed should be on a self sustaining mode by the end of 5 years. To mobilize and sustain the groups, community involvement is necessary. Towards this, innovative schemes are undertaken by State Governments and the Central Government to engage the community and bring about convergence of schemes.
Swayam Sidha has resulted in tremendous improvement in the socio-economic status of rural poor women and it has helped in providing skill enhancement to the poor women for income generating activities. The evaluation report of an external agency in 2005 indicated that women in Swayam Sidha Blocks have strengthened their social standing in society and the awareness of social evils like alcoholism, dowry & female feticide is visible. Economic status of women has definitely improved after joining the SHGs. Number of women members in Panchayat levels has increased and some of them have been elected to local bodies.
The Scheme ended in March 2008. Govt. of India has desired that the State Governments should hand hold the Self Help Groups formed under the Swayamsidha scheme till the launch the second phase of the programme.