Basic literacy classes are an intense experience and the participants develop close bonds of friendship and solidarity. ETC helps participants to formally organize as a women's group and to gather the money necessary to start their own savings fund. The formation of these groups is an essential feature of ETC's work. ETC's work with women's groups includes:
To ensure the sustainability of the changes ETC helps to introduce, communities must also have local institutions they can rely on so that their collective energies may remain focused and engaged. For this reason, once women's groups have been operating for 3 to 4 years, ETC helps them form management committees, which receive further training in cooperative organization, record keeping, and saving/credit management. These management committees then come together to register as a cooperative and another cycle of community development is initiated. The difference is that the women's cooperative itself takes charge of the process and ETC's assistance is gradually phased out, leaving the determination of ongoing development work in the capable hands of women's group members.
The effect of these programs on the lives of women and whole communities is profound. Through their newfound skills and income, women are able to fulfill many of the basic needs of the family. Access to credit allows them to start other productive activities and steadily increase their incomes. Through their achievements, they build not only their self-esteem, but become more respected by the men in their lives which places them at a more equitable level in Nepali society. Finally, they begin to act independently and with confidence.
The story of Samyukta Women's Savings and Credit Cooperative (Samyukta means "United) of Nuwakot District is one of success through perseverance. Samyukta was formed in June 2001. Since forming, among other achievements the women of Samyukta have
The women of Samyukta have grand plans for their organization. Chairwoman Maya Deivi Ghale tells ETC that their goal with the scholarship program is for the young women to go out and become trained professionals who can return to Samyukta and transform it into an international non-governmental organization. Given what they have achieved in a few short years, we wouldn't bet against them getting what they want!