The Una Cooperative Society Instrumental in Fostering Women’s Empowerment

The Una Cooperative Society Instrumental in Fostering Women's Empowerment
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Over the past nine years, women have been provided with Rs 10 crore in microcredit for income-generating activities. The Swan Women Multipurpose Cooperative Society (SWMCS), established in Una district by a coalition of women Self-Help Groups in November 2015, aims to offer microfinance services to rural women. To date, it has disbursed over Rs 10 crore in credit to support livelihood generation endeavors.

The SWMCS, affiliated with the Swan Women Federation, represents approximately 14,000 rural women in Una district, facilitating their socio-economic empowerment without relying on government support.

Back in 2006, the state government initiated the ‘Swan River Integrated Watershed Management Project’ (Swan River IWMP), abbreviated as Swan River IWMP, with financial aid from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This project aimed to mitigate flooding issues in the Swan River system and its catchment areas during the monsoon season.

As part of the IWMP, water harvesting infrastructure like check dams were constructed to retain flowing water and decrease its velocity, allowing it to gradually infiltrate the groundwater aquifer. Additionally, these initiatives established green areas surrounding the water bodies. The captured water was utilized by farmers for irrigation purposes and for promoting fisheries.

In the villages located within the catchment area of the River system, various other infrastructural developments were implemented. Additionally, women users were organized into Self Help Groups (SHGs) to ensure the continuation of the project objectives even after its scheduled closure in 2014.

By the project’s conclusion, there were approximately 425 SHGs across 50 panchayats in the district, with a total women membership of around 5,000. Recognizing that the project’s supportive guidance would cease post-exit, the women were united under an overarching body known as the Swan Women Federation, which embarked on its independent journey in 2014.

Subhadra Rani, the newly elected chairperson of the Swan Women Federation, emphasized that, similar to other initiatives, this organization would have faced collapse without the support of the then Deputy Director of IWMP, RK Dogra. He, along with an advisory council, played a pivotal role in gradually establishing and sustaining the Federation.

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