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5 Game-Changing Government Schemes for Women's Empowerment

Created on 07 Feb 2024

Wraps up in 6 Min

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Updated on 08 Feb 2024

Women's empowerment has been a sensitive subject for many decades now. Although many initiatives and laws have been created to provide equal rights and opportunities to all genders alike, there is still a major gap left for development.

For the absolute development of the nation, the central government believes these four pillars should be upgraded consistently.

  1. ‘Garib’ (Poor),
  2. ‘Mahilayen’ (Women),
  3. ‘Yuva’ (Youth), and  
  4. ‘Annadata’ (Farmer).

We will focus on the second pillar, “women,” in this article.

One area where women face the most uneven ground is employment. Maintaining the work-life balance gets tricky with issues like unequal pay and irregular working conditions.

However the government has been constantly developing multiple schemes to ensure such perils do not occur to the fair gender.

Top Government Schemes for Women in India

When I say that there is still much of a gap to be filled regarding women getting equal standing in society, I mean it. The facts speak for themselves. As per the World Economic Forum (WEF), India ranks 135 among 146 nations in the Global Gender Gap Index.

Not only this, but the World Inequality Report also finds men earn way more income than women in India. The pie chart below shows a shocking yet clear picture of the condition.

Gender Pay Gap in India
Source: World Inequality Report (2022-23)

Now that we have an idea of the conditions, let’s see what the government is doing to remedy them.

1. Lakhpati Didi Scheme

Launched in December 2023, the Lakhpati Didi scheme received a shining spotlight in the announcement of Budget 2024-25 for all the right reasons. It is a skill development program aimed at empowering rural women in India.

About 1 crore women have benefited from the scheme so far. Initially targeting 2 crore women, these epic accomplishments led to increasing the target to 3 crore for FY25.

Key Features of the Lakhpati Didi Scheme:

Here is a rundown of what the government wishes to achieve with this scheme:

  • Equip women of the nation with skills and resources to earn a sustainable income of at least ₹1 lakh per year per household.
  • Assist women in breaking free from financial constraints and contributing to local economies.
  • Increase women's participation in various sectors through entrepreneurship or employment.
  • It primarily benefits women in rural areas and Self-Help Groups (SHGs) members. These groups offer support, resources, and opportunities for collective action.

Components:

a. Skill training: Various skill development programs are offered based on local needs and market potential. These could include agriculture, animal husbandry, handicrafts, food processing, tailoring, beauty care, and more.

b. Interest-free loans: Up to ₹5 lakh is provided to eligible women to start or expand their businesses.

c. Market linkages: The scheme helps women connect with markets and potential buyers to sell their products or services.

Aiming to benefit 11.24 lakh women, Rajasthan is one of the first states to actively implement the scheme. The scheme is still in its initial stages of implementation, with ongoing efforts to reach its target beneficiaries across India.
The central government monitors the scheme's progress through the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM).

2. Mahila Samman Savings Certificate (MSSC)

Honouring “Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” in Budget 2023-24, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Mahila Samman Savings Certificate (MSSC). It is a one-time small savings scheme available for two years, from April 2023 to March 2025.

The scheme offers a fixed interest rate of 7.5% per annum. It aims to encourage savings among women and girls in the country, hence boosting financial independence and security.

A minimum ₹1,000 to a maximum ₹2 lakh per account can be invested under MSSC. A resident Indian woman or the guardian of a minor girl child can open an account under it.

There is a catch. Only one deposit is allowed per account, but a woman can open multiple accounts, keeping in mind that the cumulative investment across all accounts cannot exceed ₹2 lakh.

Minister of Women & Child Development in India Smriti Irani also opened an MSSC account.? Know all the key benefits and tax deductions that make this scheme a success by reading the article on Mahila Samman Savings Certificate.

3. One Stop Centre and Universalisation of Women Helplines

Capitalized by the Nirbhaya Fund, both the One Stop Centre (OSC) and Universalisation of Women Helplines are initiatives launched by the Indian government to support women facing violence and abuse. OSCs, AKA Sakhi Centres. Here's a breakdown of each:

One Stop Centre (OSC): Sakhi Centres

This scheme provides integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence (physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and economic abuse) under one roof. Medical aid, legal aid, counselling, psychological support, temporary stay, police assistance, and more fall under it.

It is a centrally sponsored scheme by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) along with the Nirbhaya Fund.

Universalisation of Women Helplines (WHL):

WHL provides a single national helpline number (181) for women in distress to report violence and access support services. It has a toll-free number, which is available 24/7 from anywhere in India.

The best part about this helpline number is it ensures anonymity for women seeking support. The person on duty connects the caller to the nearest OSC, hence maintaining an accessible chain.

4. Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP)

Like the Lakhpati Didi scheme, the Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) is a flagship initiative aimed at empowering women through skill development and employment generation. It was launched in 1986 by the Indian government's Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD).

Target Beneficiaries:

  • Poor and marginalised women in rural and urban areas.
  • Women in traditional sectors like agriculture, animal husbandry, handicrafts, etc.
  • Women facing special situations like disability, single motherhood, or belonging to disadvantaged communities.

Key Objectives of the STEP Initiative:

a. Upgrade skills and capacities of women for self-employment or wage employment. Covers various trades based on local needs and market demand. Examples include tailoring, beauty care, food processing, animal husbandry, etc.

b. Increase women's income and participation in the workforce.

c. Promote entrepreneurship and sustainable livelihoods for women by providing grants and access to credit for starting or expanding businesses.

d. Improve the overall socio-economic conditions of women and their families.

5. Mahila E-Haat Scheme

You might have heard about Digital India and Stand Up India initiatives. But did you know one more scheme was launched under it? No, right?

Well, the Mahila E-Haat Scheme was launched in 2015 and is an initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). This scheme aims to provide an online marketing platform for women entrepreneurs across the country.

Key Objectives of the Mahila E-Haat Scheme:

a. Empower women with a platform to showcase and sell their products and services directly to consumers.

b. Promote entrepreneurship among women and help them become financially independent.

c. Create a sustainable livelihood for women and assist them in supporting their families.

Interestingly, women entrepreneurs can register on the Mahila E-Haat portal absolutely free of cost. Not only this, but the scheme offers training and capacity-building programs to help women improve their business skills and knowledge.

Hence, marketing support and knowledge allow these fantastic entrepreneurs to reach out to a wider customer base. The scheme also provides financial assistance through loans and grants to start or expand businesses.

The Bottom Line

All the above schemes have the potential to significantly improve the lives of women (rural and urban) in India. Through financial independence and participation in the workforce, one can contribute to poverty reduction, social development, and overall economic growth.

The government's plans to expand these schemes are a welcome step that will further benefit women entrepreneurs, housewives, and girls. This in turn will lead to the development of the nation and society in whole. After all, “Women are the real architects of society”.

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Which other schemes do you think should be included in this list? Drop your suggestions in the comment section below. 👇

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Preeti Gupta

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A book-lover who adores everything fictional, Preeti has undertaken the life mission of tasting every flavour available in the pantry. A science student with a Master's in Mass Communication, she now wishes to conquer the Finance world as a writer. With the power invested by the randomly chosen music, she is here to make Finance fun for you.

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