AVAG has been a partner in the creation of Women’s and Men’s Federations, an important step in codifying political power in the villagers’ hands while transferring decision-making and administrative duties directly to beneficiaries.
By offering comprehensive support, AVAG has realized the inherent capability of human beings for self-empowerment and provided the proper resources to build a healthy life. By awarding external loans directly through the Federations, they are locals, rather than a non-resident organization, who are responsible for successful loan administration.
Men’s Federation Meeting
This unique microfinance mechanism is likely a major factor in the near perfect rate of SHG loan repayment at AVAG, as villagers become invested participants in the health of the microfinance program.
Understanding functions – Udhayam Women’s Federation
- The Udhayam Women’s Federation became a legally registered entity in 2013. By virtue of this it is capable of independently applying for Government funds to implement projects.
- The Udhayam Women’s Federation is a body of 5039 members (2016), i.e. members of all Women’s SHGs. Every group elects a leader to be part of a General Body of 288 members (2016). The General Body elects the Executive Council (EC) that consists of 38 members (2016). Of these EC members, 12 are selected as Office Bearers.
- The Federation EC members, and therefore Office bearers are rotated after every 2 years to ensure honest and authentic representation of the women.
- Therefore the Udhayam Federation’s Executive Council is a decision making body that speaks for the women as a whole and also voices concerns from particular groups. The Federation meets twice a month to discuss issues in their respective regions, deliberate on solutions and also keeps a check on the books of all the groups, making sure the accounts are transparent and funds fairly allocated.
- In Federation meetings several discussions are conducted by AVAG development workers regarding prevalent social issues and an effort is made to bring a positive shift in the mentality of the women. They are encouraged to debate and problem solve, therefore improving their critical observations of the way society functions and the future of their community.
- The Federation is an interface between AVAG and the individual SHG member. They are responsible for communicating concerns between the women and AVAG.
- Apart from these responsibilities, the Federation also organises the Annual Women’s Solidarity Festival and raises funds for this event from the SHG members.
Understanding functions – Men’s Federation
- Owing to the smaller number of men’s groups, the Men’s Federation is not yet a legally registered entity. A representative is selected for every 2 or 3 groups (total 15 members, as of 2016) to be part of the Executive Council.
- This body meets once a month to discuss men’s development projects like their savings and credit programs.
- They review and select important proposals for micro projects in the villages.
- Conventionally, the men in the region are more politically involved. Therefore, they also discuss issues related to local political leaders, Panchayat leaders and bio-regional social issues.
- In some villages, federation members have stood for panchayat elections themselves and others support local leaders. Previously during Panchayat elections, the federation members would decide what is the stand of the group and who they support. However, this led to divisions in the Federation due to varying political leanings. Slowly the federation has decided to keep political preferences personal.
- As a collective, the Men’s Federation continues to hold elected representatives responsible to fulfil their duties.
- They present the problems and needs of their villages to different government departments, and get support of Panchayat leaders in their applications.
- They take initiatives to organise health awareness camps, veterinary camps and inter-village Sports events.
- They make efforts to implement government schemes in the villages therefore becoming facilitators of social change.