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Women’s Empowerment
As the new millennium dawns, one sees the attempts towards emancipation of women as a stepping stone of progress. At the same time there is lot more to be done… Women in the marginalized sectors face crucial problems added to by the emergence of globalization. Exploitation, harassment, deprivation and violence are all on the rise.

In 1998 Santulan began its focused program of Women's Empowerment with Adult Literacy Centers for Stone Quarry Women near Wagholi village. Women, though tired by the long working hours in the quarry gave no excuse in attending the classes regularly. They found the centers to be a platform to express their problems and dreams.

In 1999 on the occasion of International Women's Day, for the first time in the history of Wagholi village, over five hundred women marched through the village breaking illicit liquor dens. This marked the beginning of them stepping out of their houses and moving towards a life of dignity. The movement began spreading to the neighboring villages. Women, realizing the importance of unity and the need to face their socio-economic challenges, adopted the strategies of Self-Help Groups, Awareness Meetings, Workshops, Rallies, Leadership and Self-Employment Training, Legal Aid and Counseling and Credit Cooperatives.

Self-Help Groups
With a vision towards "enhancement of socio-economic and political status of marginalized women through the process of awakening and strengthening their total abilities and potential towards the development of an egalitarian society", Santulan initiated Self-Help Groups (S.H.G.s) for women in rural, slum and stone quarry areas of Pune district in Maharashtra.  A group of 10 to 20 women from neighboring areas came together and formed a Self-Help Group (SHG). They meet monthly and save an amount decided by the group which is deposited as savings. SHGs are for women from rural areas, stone quarries and urban slums.

Women’s Credit Cooperative Society
Self-Help Group members registered the first Credit Cooperative Society named Santulan Gramin Bigarsheti Sahakari Path Sanstha Ltd. Wagholi, in Pune. Self-Help Groups, promoted by Santulan, have their accounts stored with the Cooperative. There are currently over 4134 women members of 194 SHGs. The decisions and management of the Cooperative Society is entirely taken care of by SHG women members. The society advances loans to groups for self-employment initiatives. Besides internal loans, the Credit Cooperative Society established by the SHG women has greatly assisted women to become economically empowered.


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