Women don’t just Climb the corporate Ladder but also Coconut trees as well.
Women don’t just Climb the corporate Ladder but also Coconut trees as well. | Credit: Younews

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Women don’t just Climb the corporate Ladder but also Coconut trees as well.

Aug 30, 2018

Women are very precious and valuable in our society. Once empowered, women can perform amazing things. Their amazing economic performance can be seen in India through the Kudumbashree programme in Kerala for nearly 5 million women.

Why is this remarkable? When you look up some tall trees in the countryside of Thrissur, you’ll be surprised. You’ll see trained women harvesting coconuts! Nobody thought this would be possible some years back.

Why are coconuts so special and in demand? They can be consumed in various ways.

Multipurpose use of coconuts

  • As oil
  • As pulp
  • As milk

Credit: The Betterindia
Credit: The Betterindia

How did the programme come about?

Something triggered the start of this training programme of climbing and plucking coconuts. You need to harvest coconuts every 45 days according to statistical data provided by Kerala’s Economics and Statistics Department. That means a need for many climbers. And 50,000 coconut climbers were needed! Who’d help fill this need? Our precious women through the Kudumbashree programme!

So that’s how the training of women climbers from Kozhikode, Thrissur and Malappuram began.

This has provided employment for women. It’s now a decade since India sensed that establishing this job market would help empower our dear women.

What is the purpose of this Kudumbashree programme?

  • To reduce poverty
  • To promote gender equality
  • To empower women

Safety precautions for climbers

Since the climbing causes chest pains and scars when plucking coconuts, there’s a device to help women climb trees and they are given two wheelers and mobiles.

What economical empowerment has resulted from this fine programme?

Unbelievable economical empowerment

  • Currently, the success of this economic empowering programme is the best ever in India, perhaps in the world.
  • Poor women have been lifted out of poverty through this solid programme. About five million women are beneficiaries of this programme.
  • Now many women are able to earn up to Rs 650 a day. 

Credit: Bafts
Credit: Bafts

What’s the secret to its success?

For any nation, society, community to develop, it must begin with strong families or family-like groups. That’s where the success of the Kudumbashree lies.

Actually the word Kudumbashree means ‘prosperity of the family.’ The word ‘kudumb’ has the thought of family. And ‘shree’ means prosperity. So the secret lies in putting women in family-like groups.

How has the programme been implemented?

By enhancing the socio-economic status of women via micro-credits and empowering women through:

  • Vocational training
  • Education
  • Health care
  • Implemented through local self-government (LSGs)

How about organisation and support?

  • Family-like group of poor women
  • Put in small Neighbourhood Group (NHG) of not more than 20 women
  • Provided with micro-finance
  • With state support
  • Dynamic community action

Advantages of being in a group

  • Women understand each other’s difficulties since they are a small group with similar socio-economic status
  • They know each other as locals just like a family
  • They have weekly meetings as NHG members to talk about plans and other matters
  • They contribute Rs 10 each and this promotes empowerment
  • They meet and get to know each other better as they socialise; and this makes them confident
  • They are able to earn a reasonable monthly income

Credit: The Betterindia
Credit: The Betterindia

More than just female climbers!

Kudumbashree kitchens.

There’s more to Kudumbashree than just climbers. There are some Kudumbashree kitchens. In each district, there are community kitchens. Some women are even encouraging Indians to love traditional foods, e.g. grains and vegetables.

Tailoring business.

Women make blouses and salwar-kameez suits for women.

Saving money.

Every meeting, women contribute as little as Rs 10. This encourages women to learn the fine habit of saving money. It helps to eliminate poverty. And the lesson? Even the poor are capable of saving money if given right circumstances, opportunities and incentives!

NHG open a joint account.

Each member is given a separate passbook. Education in simple basics of banking transaction gives them good empowerment. This makes it easy for them to obtain loans with huge subsides. These loans go up to Rs. 10 lakh.

Evidence of Kudumbashree success

Women have been able penetrate the following:

  • Higher education
  • Small-scale businesses
  • Health care
  • Farming
  • Producing rice, vegetables and fruits via over 60,000 Joint Liability Groups (JLG).

Surely, our precious women can perform awesome things once they are empowered!