Lakhpati Didi: Empowering Women Financially

Lakhpati Didi: Empowering Women Financially

The innovative training provided through this program is also anticipated to contribute to an increase in the female labor force participation rate, which rose to 37% in FY23 from 23.3% in FY18.

Under the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme, the government targets providing skills training to 30 million rural women who are members of Self Help Groups, with the aim of enabling them to earn an annual income of at least Rs 1 lakh. Banasree Purkayastha examines how this initiative could empower rural women to attain financial independence and increase female participation in the labor force.

Elevating the Ambition

During her interim Budget address, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the government’s intention to increase the target for the number of women trained under the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme from 20 million to 30 million. The scheme is designed to provide training to members of women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs), affectionately referred to as ‘Didis’, enabling them to leverage their entrepreneurial skills to achieve a sustainable annual income of at least Rs 1 lakh per household through the establishment of micro-enterprises in their villages. The interim Budget underscored women, in addition to farmers, youth, and the impoverished, as pivotal focus groups for the government’s policy endeavors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi initially disclosed in his Independence Day speech on August 15, 2023, that the government is collaborating with women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) with the objective of fostering 20 million ‘Lakhpati Didis’ throughout India.

Skills Training Aligned with Industry Needs

Under the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ initiative, women receive training in a diverse range of practical skills that are tailored to meet emerging industry requirements, extending beyond traditional sectors like agriculture, handloom, handicrafts, and allied fields where rural women have traditionally been engaged. These new skills encompass areas such as plumbing, light emitting diode (LED) bulb manufacturing, drone operation and repair, and more.

The objective of the Lakhpati Didi program is not only to promote the economic empowerment of women but also to enable them to create employment opportunities in rural areas. As highlighted by Prime Minister Modi in his address, one can now find women, or “Didis,” in various roles such as banking, anganwadi centers, and health clinics in villages. This underscores how financially empowered women can play a crucial role in reshaping the socioeconomic landscape of rural India.

The innovative training offered through this program is also anticipated to contribute to an increase in the female labor force participation rate, which rose to 37% in FY23 from 23.3% in FY18.

Drones and Empowered Women

The diversified training approach under the Lakhpati Didi scheme not only enables women to explore entrepreneurial opportunities across various sectors but also breaks social barriers that previously hindered their participation in male-dominated fields. In November 2023, the Union Cabinet approved a scheme wherein the central government would distribute drones to 15,000 women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) as part of the Lakhpati Didi initiative. These drones will be provided to women from 2023-24 through 2025-2026, with SHGs having the option to rent them out to farmers for agricultural purposes. Each SHG member will undergo a mandatory five-day drone pilot training along with an additional 10-day training on agriculture nutrients and pesticide application. The estimated capital outlay for the scheme is set at Rs. 1,261 crore. Under this initiative, the central government will provide 80% of the cost of the drone and accessories/ancillary charges, up to a maximum of Rs. 8 lakh, to SHGs. States will select women SHGs from villages engaged in growing commercial crops, orchards, and plantations for participation in the program.

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