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20. Empowering the Poor through Microenterprise and Skills Training

Women better their lives through programs that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment

The Situation

Although India is making strategic gains, the poor, and especially women, are left behind. Statistics show the utter poverty in the Madurai District of Tamil, India.

Sisters’ Response

For more than 30 years, Sister-led St Joseph’s Social Service Center has empowered the poor and marginalized in this region. The Center has 500 women who have formed community-based organizations that loan money among themselves to create, expand and sustain small businesses. These 500 women have engaged in micro-enterprises and are moving toward being self-sustaining. 

Our mission is to empower the poor and the marginalized with a view to restoring to them their human dignity. We believe in developing people’s capacity to grow and enjoy improved quality of life, enabling people to take ownership for their own holistic development, building a sustainable and integrated development model, and promoting and protecting the dignity of every human being.”  

Sr. Lucia Sebastian

Funds Needed: $7,940 (first year)

How funds will be used:

This successful program seeks to intensify its program offerings to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in 30 villages.

  • Gender training for 200 women
  • Human trafficking prevention for 100 women
  • Human rights training for 200 women
  • Training on violence against women and children for 100 women
  • Leadership training for 200 women
  • Rally and signature campaign
  • Small business loan assistance program
  • Local animator’s training and stipend

Systemic Impact

Women in Madurai District India experience gender equality

“The Self Help Groups provide a platform for the poor women to understand their situation, support one another and  collectively take action to better their life situation and reclaim their human dignity. Among the actions they took in 2018, the women formed an Ala-non group that meets weekly to help the women recover from the effects of living with the problem of drinking, and successfully advocated for a change in public policy.” —Sr. Lucia Sebastian

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