Working Women's Forum
Gender and equity: experience of the Working Women's Forum, India

This article illustrates how poor women were able to move out of poverty and dehumanization through a process of mobilization, conscientization and organization. They also overcame the ill effects of patriarchy and asserted their rights to resources to which they were entitled. The process was catalysed by the intervention of an NGO, the Working Women's Forum. Elements in a new accumulation process at the base of the informal economy are identified. The process shows how organizations of poor women helped them move from below the poverty line and bare survival to sustainable levels of economic and human development. Through a holistic approach, poor women saved even with their low level of income, invested, created assets, repaid loans, put technological and managerial capability into their economic activities and incorporated social dimensions like primary health care, family welfare and literacy into their lives. From their savings, they created their own bank, the Working Women's Forum Credit Society. The process is now being duplicated with an internally generated momentum in other poor areas around the country.

Source: Nandini Azad, "Gender and equity: experience of the Working Women's Forum, India" International Social Science Journal, June 1996, No. 148