President of India launches Gender Budget Scheme for Mobile Connectivity

The Honourable President of India, Smt. Pratibha Patil today launched ‘Sanchar Shakti’ - the Gender Budget scheme for Mobile Connectivity & ICT related livelihood skills for Self Help Groups – an initiative by Vodafone Essar, one of India’s leading cellular services provider under the aegis of Universal Service Obligation Fund of the Department of Telecommunications...

 

The Honourable President of India, Smt. Pratibha Patil today launched ‘Sanchar Shakti’ - the Gender Budget scheme for Mobile Connectivity & ICT related livelihood skills for Self Help Groups (SHGs) – an initiative by Vodafone Essar, one of India’s leading cellular services provider under the aegis of Universal Service Obligation Fund of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT-USOF). The event was held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.

Vodafone Essar, in its endeavour to support empowerment of SHGs, has initiated this pilot project that will encompass over a 12 month period, around 2500 women who are organized in roughly 160 SHGs across 80 villages in the Warangal and Rangareddy districts of Andhra Pradesh. The execution is in partnership with an NGO - Ankuram Sangamam Poram (ASP) - a Dalitbahujan Federation that supports and guides nearly 80,000 women organized in SHGs across 12 districts of Andhra Pradesh.

The Sanchar Shakti initiative aims at increasing the income and livelihood means of women members and to increase awareness and education in areas such as health, sanitation, hygiene and social issues via mobile solutions. The project has been launched under the aegis of DoT as a part of the department scheme to empower rural women through mobile connectivity and ICT.

Speaking on the Initiative, Samaresh Parida, Director –Corporate Strategy, Vodafone Essar Limited said, “Vodafone is committed to achieving its Millennium Development Goals and women empowerment is a key focus in our vision for sustainability. We believe in delivering products and services that enable economic, social and environmental outcomes for our stakeholders across India. Our philosophy aligns itself with DoT’s vision of using ICT to empower women members of Self Help Groups (SHG), with an objective to better equip them in an increasingly connected and tech-savvy world.”

As part of the activity, Vodafone will equip and train women members of SHGs to act as Vodafone retailers within the community. With continued support, marketing material and training to upgrade skills and knowledge, this will become a powerful means for increasing each SHG’s corpus of funds through new customer acquisitions, product & service sales, etc. A customized icon based, GPRS Data Collection Application in Telugu will allow the SHG leaders to upload income & loan activity related data to the NGO and allow the latter to analyze information, correct problems and replicate best practices.

Furthermore, every SHG member will have access to an interactive voice application in Telugu which will deliver content on health topics, social issues and livelihood enhancement tips. The voice portal will also feature inspirational case studies from across SHGs and will allow women members to record queries, responses as well simply to share their stories.

ASP is a Dalitbahujan Mutually Aided Cooperatives Federation which is owned and controlled by SC/ST/BC women in Andhra Pradesh. It was registered with the Registrar of Cooperatives, Government of Andhra Pradesh in 2000.

Sangamam, which means “Meeting Point” in Telugu, is the root arm of the federation. It primarily performs financial functions with the women members taking up thrift and credit activities.

Enterprising members of Sangamam get elevated to Ankuram, that part of ASP which supports on and off-farm livelihood and business activities.

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