Women's Group

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:

  • Microcredit and off-farm income generation activities
  • Group management and leadership training to enhance solidarity and cultivate relationships with different kinds of development agencies
  • Training in record keeping, which helps members maintain sound financial management of their savings and loan funds
  • Public health training to reduce the incidence of preventable infectious diseases and parasites
  • Gender training for group members and their husbands, geared toward improving both the relationships between men and women and the treatment of daughters
  • Business management training that helps women develop an entrepreneurial approach toward income generation.

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.

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A Cooperative Success!

Members of Samyukta Coop

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

  • organized and provided literacy training for 15 new women's groups
  • created a scholarship program for high school girls
  • succeeded in getting the local government to release funds to the coop for road repair
  • were awarded a grant from the American Himalayan Foundation for a goat breeding project.

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!