The International Exchange Organization for Women, New York, USA.
This is one of the pioneering projects in the field of development and training of women in rural areas with the aim of activating their role to achieve self-reliance. The Project’s activities were set to promote income-generating businesses among rural women to enhance their economic conditions as well as those of their families and community at large a matter that qualified the Project to win the AGFUND Prize under the Second Category.
The beneficiaries of the project are the women of remote villages and small towns in the rural areas of Karnataka State, whose annual income ranges between US$ 300 and 600.
The project’s activities, which are implemented through the members of AWAKE with the help of a group of specialists, include the following:
To identify villages and rural communities and study their resources, structures and socio-economic conditions.
To launch campaigns aiming at raising the awareness of rural women in these communities to promote and activate their role through income-generating businesses.
To organize training courses in small-business management, urging women to make achievements in this area.
To train trainers to ensure continuity of the project after termination of the activities of AWAKE
To prepare follow-up programmes to ensure success.
AWAKE based its project, which aimed at promoting income-generating businesses among women in rural areas, on the fact that women in the Indian society account for 51% of the total population. Imbalances in distribution of wealth among rural and city dwellers characterize the Indian economy, where the average rural family income ranges between US$ 150 and US$ 600 annually. Women in rural areas work in agriculture with a daily wage of no more than half a dollar.
Therefore, AWAKE started its project in order to become an instrument for economic independence, which leads ultimately to raising the living standard of the family.AWAKE believes that activating the economic role of women will automatically lead to their and their families’ social welfare. It also believes that instead of providing and implementing projects that would help improve the health, financial and educational conditions of women, the role of women must be stimulated to encourage them provide such services for themselves. This would lead to enhancing their self-confidence and make them fully self-reliant.
AWAKE has been able to establish its programme in 20 rural areas within the State of Karnataka in India. The programme covered over the last four years more than 15,000 rural women, of whom about 4900 were trained in running small rural businesses. More than 2,800 women have already started their own businesses, with an average annual income ranging between US$ 500 and US$ 4,000.
One of the outstanding results of the project is the fact that the beneficiary women of the project have been able to provide jobs opportunities for other women. Moreover, some of those women have established self-help groups in some areas (20 groups).