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Gramin Mahila Vikas Sangh, Latur
Location of Marathwada Region
Marathwada Region
Comprises of the inland eastern districts in Maharashtra
It accounts for 16.84% of the state's population and is home to nearly 30% of the
state's Below Poverty Line families.
Per capita GDP is Rs 10,373 -- a good 40 per cent below the state's per capita GDP
of Rs 17,029 -- and contributes just 8% of the state's industrial output.
Literacy rate is the lowest in the state (51.23%, Census 2001).
All eight districts figure in the list of the 100 poorest districts in the country.
About 98% of agriculture is dry land farming and cotton is the major crop.
But the inherent susceptibility of cotton crop to pest and the vagaries of nature
make its cultivation a risky affair, resulting in many a farmer falling prey to debt.
Perhaps, the most neglected region of Maharashtra
Socio-Cultural Aspects
• Feudal society - Patriarchy is still very strong in
the region
• Regressive social attitude towards women and
depressed classes (Dalits).
Socio-Cultural Aspects
• One-fifth of Marathwada’s population is
‘dalit’- ‘lowest’ in the social strata, in a
caste-ridden society
• Dalits and women are marginalized both
socially and economically
• Estimated that over 85% of dalits work in the
agricultural sector as wage labourers
Personal Journey
Kushavarta Bele – Founder member of GMVS
Married at the age of 13
Schooling discontinued
Life revolved around domestic chores and as a daily
wage farm labourer to supplement the family income
A desire to complete her school level education and learn
more remained suppressed but alive within Kushavarta
Personal Journey
• Supported by a local schoolteacher,
Kushavarta completed her high school braving
several odds on the home front
• Joined a local NGO and worked as a grassroots
• Work involved travel and late hours - ill
treatment meted out by her husband and inlaws
Emerging as a Leader
• Realised the need to address several issues affecting
women/dalits at the local level
• Work at the grassroots had resulted in reaching out to
a large number of women / other community
• Resolved local level problems on domestic violence /
PDS cards and had the ability to approach Government
officials / other NGO networks - developed a good
rapport with the community
• Local people approached her to start an organisation
and initiate development activities in the villages of
Deoni and Udgir blocks
Establishing GMVS
• Gramin Mahila Vikas Sanstha (GMVS) was established in 1996
by Kushavarta Bele
• Objective of implementing locally relevant programmes with a
primary focus on dalit and women’s issues
• Kushvarta Bele with the support of a small team drawn from
the community has gradually built the organisation
• Recognised at the district level for its strong community presence
and the voice of dalit and marginalised women
Main Activities
•Promotion of Self Help Groups
•Thrift and credit activities at the SHG level and developing
linkages with Banks
•Training workshops for livelihood activities – organic
agriculture, animal husbandry and poultry
•Mobilizing women to resolve cases of domestic violence
through community level interventions/family
counseling/legal aid
•Supporting and managing ‘anganwadis’ (play schools)
• Currently the operational area in Udgir and Deoni
blocks covers about 100 villages
• Promoted more than 500 Self Help Groups
• Involvement of about 12,000 women in various
• Accessed more than Rs. 40 M through different
sources of credit to meet their production needs
Support from different Government schemes, Paul Hamlyn
Foundation and Development Support Team
Working with the Community
• Drawing women from within the community to work as
‘Community organisers / workers’
• Training and mentoring undertaken by Kushavarta Bele
• Women leaders at the village level nurtured to act as
first level contact within the community
• Promotion of village level forums – Self Help Groups /
other ad hoc women’s groups to solve burning issues
(dowry death / domestic violence / water supply etc )
• Holding of Women’s Conventions at the block level
• Counselling centres – legal aid / awareness on
Government Schemes
Empowering women
Political participation of women through :
• Training programmes on roles and
responsibilities of Gram Panchayat members,
importance of political participation of women
and understanding welfare programmes are
routed through the Gram Panchayat.
• Encouraging women to engage in the
Committees formed at the village level and
address the needs of needy and poor women
Empowering Women
• Sensitization of community on gender
imbalance particularly on son preference at
birth / ill effects of female foeticide
• Village level workshops for adolescent girls to
create awareness regarding personal hygiene,
nutrition and general health