Odisha government’s Department of Mission Shakti on Monday signed an agreement with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to empower women economically and drive gender equality in the state.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Sujata R Karthikeyan, Commissioner cum Secretary, Department of Mission Shakti and Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary, UNCDF. Under the joint initiative, the launch of Mission Shakti Living Lab was announced.
In a statement, the state government said the partnership will address barriers that limit women’s access to financial security, autonomy and financial freedom with use of digital technologies and rising e-commerce industry in India. It will help 3.5 million self help groups (SHG) women members and low income individuals to have access to digital financial services and improved financial health.
The initiative will also help 10,000 women-led micro-enterprises get better access to affordable market opportunities, capital for business promotion, and market solutions for better linkages. The programme will improve the ability of SHG members and households to plan, save, borrow or spend better thereby improving their women’s financial wellbeing, the statement said.
“Economic empowerment of women is critical to the state’s growth and today we have a real opportunity to use new technologies to increase women’s participation in the economy. The partnership between Mission Shakti and UNCDF’s Centre for Financial Health is timely and crucial to accelerate access to digital services that can increase women’s income and financial well-being,” Sujata Karthikeyan said.
“In Odisha, Mission Shakti’s efforts have led to incremental increase in income of SHG members from Rs 3,000 to 15,000 per month,” she added.
Talking at the event, Henri Dommel, Director of Inclusive Digital Economies practice at UNCDF, said, “We have a real opportunity to use new technologies and infrastructure to enhance women’s financial security and financial freedom and move towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on women can only be lessened if we purposefully target and invest in women.”
“This partnership will drive its efforts in improving women’s agency and financial resilience. The Mission Shakti Living Lab will incubate, scale and drive innovative digital solutions to create conditions for women to be financially healthy through the creation of fair and stable markets for their products,” Dommel added.
The partnership has established a Living Lab aimed at accelerating women’s economic empowerment by working directly with the SHGs and women, especially rural women, with innovations such as financial and digital platforms aimed at improving financial health through the creation of fair and stable markets for women’s products.
The statement said that in four years, at least 10,000 women micro-enterprises and 3.5 million women and low/moderate income households in Odisha would see improvements to their financial health and well-being owing to increased digital access and measured by growing levels of capital participation.
The focus of the Mission Shakti Living Lab is to increase women’s agency and well-being to improve their financial health through their participation in supply chains while seeking to narrow gender gaps or level the playing field more broadly. Efforts include enabling a wide range of services that women need, including helping them get money when they need it, manage it well and buy what they need, all while building their financial resilience and security.