Kudumbasree: A grassroots initiative to alleviate and empower women

Dr. K.B. Valsalakumari IAS is the Executive Director of Kudumbasree
Dr. K.B. Valsalakumari IAS is the Executive Director of Kudumbasree

A purely Keralite model of Poverty alleviation through women empowerment is getting copied by two other third world nations. Development models are usually copied on a rural – urban pattern or vice versa. Here, much rural a model is replicated by another rural mass, located continents away. How do you find it?

It is indeed a matter of pride that a Keralite model of poverty alleviation and women empowerment is now getting exported to two other nations. The ministerial team from Ethiopia and Free State Province of South Africa, on their initial visits, seemed very well impressed with our functional strategy. When I was asked to lead a team of Deedis (what Kudumbasree members call each other) to present our model in those countries, I was doubtful of an effective communication to happen there. But after intense training, when Indian women started explaining their working style to their Ethiopian counterparts, I was astonished at a unique rapport that evolved among them. That rapport disregarded national boundaries and linguistic barriers. All what filled the air was a warm welcome to our saga of association and advancement.

Central government’s Nirbhaya training programme for self defence has a similar counterpart successfully implemented by Kudumbasree. As the centre plans to allot another 1000 crores for the purpose, do you think the programme would reach its goal?

I wonder how effectively Kudumbasree could have taken the Nirbhaya programme for building self defence in women, to grassroots level with all our reach and resources. A massive fund held between the red tapes in the ministry of Home affairs, the programme still awaits the launch. We are still ready to conduct the programme if the ministry hands it over to us. We shall combine it with the self defence training we currently run, in association with the police department in Kerala, and copy the model in other states. Handing over a project to Kudumbasree simply means shooting your plan to a half of country’s families.

An ‘all-women TV channel’. Is the venture a scratch-start to a feministic electronic media culture in India?

Media Sree is looked forward as an alternate media culture, essentially breaking all the stereotypes the conventional media tools have propagated about women so far. As the executive director of Kudumbasree, I need not go way long to exemplify the subtle feminine eagerness to extend a hand of help to fellow beings. SHE is never that revenge queen or an idiotic slave as portrayed in TV serials.

Training rural women in all aspects of television production, I am sure of a much democratic and realistic multimedia output from our women. This frame will make people realise that media job is very well a layman’s cup of coffee. Yes, we do have a number of lady reporters and correspondents but what is their strength when it comes to the decisive roles? Media literacy is more about the scenes behind the screens.

My vision about this media venture is of overcoming the contorted and skewed representation of women in the contemporary media. Moreover, intensive training in videography can earn a bread winning job for them. We ourselves can stop outsourcing the recording of developmental activities we carry out. Self reliance is more about reach to resources. And this reach is impractical without media tools now.

Coming to the question of age, do you think rural grassroots are equipped to be a part of the emerging ‘digital India’? With the extent of your reach to rural India, how can Kudumbasree help to take technology to the verandas of rural housing?

Our rural grassroots haven’t yet reached the economic state to afford technology. Even though this is largely region specific, Kudumbasree is pretty eager to take up the digital ventures. Many neighbourhood groups have their own WhatsApp group, same is not the case with all parts of India. Exchange of ideas through Sthree Sakthi portal is much beyond regular social networking.

Apart from the social networking activities through Sthree sakthi portal, we are currently looking forward to design a mobile application to make the accounting procedures direct and virtual. Members have to run around to submit the minutes and accounts of each neighbourhood meeting currently. By introducing an App, they can upload the information directly from the venue. A ‘Kudumbasree App’ can digitalize the rural India.


How do you look forward to furnish your achievements before the rest of the world, where there is an increased demand of urban poverty alleviation and organized empowerment of weaker sections? 

In a national seminar we organize on 20th and 21st of August at Kovalam, academicians from several schools will discuss the topic “Poverty alleviation, Women empowerment and Local governance”. It may seem so early to predict that ours will be the most economic and effective poverty alleviation model among the many being presented there. But I am kind of sure about that.

This international seminar is further, an opening up for Kudumbasree, where we exhibit our development strategy before the world. We are helping six other states in India with our unique model and strategy. Any addition is welcome, Kudumbasree is always here to build self reliance, stable living conditions and financial independance.


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