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Best Practices: Odisha’s Approach to Women Empowerment

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Odisha has been empowering its women very effectively under the Mission Shakti women empowerment program. Let us see how.

What is Mission Shakti Women Empowerment Program?

Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister, devised the Mission Shakti strategy to empower women. However, the government has begun to create work possibilities solely for women in various government departments, giving it a new lease on life. Over the last two years, about 9.8 lakh women have secured work in 13 different government ministries across Odisha.
Since its inception in 2001, Mission Shakti has empowered over 70 lakh women. However, from 2019 forward, it has expanded its constituency and capability to provide benefits beyond the original population. It wants to take over one crore women under its wing and provide them with a stable livelihood and a monthly income guarantee, but most significantly, it is committed to developing and upgrading women’s talents. Not only is it intended to provide them with a source of income and a monthly stipend in order to keep them gainfully employed and provide for their families, but it is also intended to provide them with an identity that is distinct from that of someone’s daughter, wife, woman, or mother.

Fishing, Agriculture and other sectors Empowering the Odisha Women

Fishing is paying off handsomely under the Mission Shakti women empowerment initiative in Odisha, thanks to technical assistance and subsidies. In comparison to a government subsidy of Rs 70,000, the women have earned Rs 2,25,000 a year via their hard work and commercial savvy, and the windfall profit has encouraged them to try new things. Many work in the dried fish industry, while others have opened a tailoring shop or a canteen.
Apart from this, women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged to engage in remunerative vegetable and cash crop farming. Lemongrass, veggies, and millets are all encouraged to be grown. And it’s gotten to the point where men are choosing to work as farm labourers in their wives’ fields.
The Odisha government is also developing job opportunities in traditionally male-dominated industries such as power for reading electricity metres, finance and banking, public distribution system dealership, and rice procurement. The finance department has once again hired a large number of women to act as banking agents and correspondences for all of the unbanked doctors. To begin with, women operate in approximately 1,500 regions where banks have yet to establish themselves. There are plans to hire agents for 4,000 of the 6,000 unbanked doctors.

Women in the Government Service in Odisha

The Odisha administration has made a commitment to hire women at monthly remuneration for government service. This decision came after CM Patnaik fixed the position of the government as a prospective employer for women during a cabinet meeting in May 2019, shortly after regaining power for the fourth time. The government committed to buy goods and services from the Mission Shakti Self Help Groups for Rs 5,000 crore. While this would ensure a regular injection of funds into SHGs and cash into the hands of women, it would also address the amount of unemployment among 49 per cent of the state’s population—women make up about 2 crore of the state’s 4.6 crore population, according to 2020 records.
Talking about the government’s women empowerment policy, commissioner cum secretary of Mission Shakti, Sujata Karthikeyan has said, “The government’s empowerment policy is not just about economic empowerment. “It is an identity and recognition for the women in the family and society. When chief minister in a Mission Shakti programme asked the women in the audience if they were getting paid regularly, a 50 plus woman came forward and with folded hands told him that Mission Shakti has given them an identity (Amo-parichaye). So, I keep saying that Mission Shakti is the story of new Odisha which is aspirational, inclusive and modern.”