Odisha, UNCDF Join Hands To Advance Women’s Economic Empowerment

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Bhubaneswar: The Government of Odisha through the Department of Mission Shakti and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), signed an agreement today to announce the launch of the Mission Shakti Living Lab.

The Living Lab is a joint initiative designed by the Odisha government and UNCDF through its Centre for Financial Health to empower women economically and drive gender equality. The agreement was signed by Ms Sujata R. Karthikeyan, Commissioner cum Secretary, Department of Mission Shakti and Ms Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary, UNCDF.

Mission Shakti was launched in 2001 to bolster the holistic development of women but has over the years become a revolution and has today established itself as the hallmark of women empowerment and autonomy. There are 6.02 lakh self-help groups(SHGs) comprising of 70 lakh members organised under Mission Shakti across rural and urban areas of the state. Mission Shakti has contributed significantly towards providing livelihood opportunities for women, removing structural barriers, reforming attitudes and establishing infrastructure where women have equal opportunities to contribute, benefit and advance their economic status. The current initiatives of Mission Shakti have played a crucial role in strategizing financial future of women SHGs in Odisha. The 5T mandate has further facilitated timely decision making process, teamwork on convergence mode, adoption of transparency measures and integration of technology, paving way for transformative change in women empowerment in Odisha.

Ms Sujata R. Karthikeyan, Commissioner cum Secretary, Department of Mission Shakti, while signing the MoU 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 the access to digital services that can increase women’s income and financial well-being.” She added, “In Odisha, Mission Shakti’s efforts have led to incremental increase in income of SHG members from INR 3,000 to 15,000 per month”.

Talking at the event, Mr 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. UNCDF is proud to be partnering with Mission Shakti through its Centre for Financial Health. 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.”

The partnership will address barriers that limits 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 SHG women members and low income individuals to have access to digital financial services and improved financial health. It will 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 programme is a dedicated effort by the Honourable Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik, to improve the lives of women and low- and moderate-income population in the state. The initiative will create income and better savings opportunities by levering digital platforms. The state of Odisha is geared towards embracing the new age of digital innovation to economically empower SHG members and women micro-entrepreneurs.

UNCDF’s work in financial health is centred on enhancing people’s financial security, resilience and wellbeing. Engaging women in economic activities empowers them to achieve positive changes in their lives and that of communities and the nation at large, which in turn contributes to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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