Business Case for Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton in Maharashtra

Business Case for Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton in Maharashtra

India is the largest producer and second largest exporter of cotton in the world, providing direct livelihood to 6 million farmers, while about 40-50 million people are employed in
cotton trade and processing. Women perform a majority of the tasks involved in cotton cultivation, but play a limited part in agricultural decision-making, have limited involvement in market-facing roles and limited control over profits. They often fall on the shadow side of farm-related interventions and have reduced access to agronomic knowledge, skills and extension services.

To assess the potential of women cotton cultivators and build a deeper understanding of gender roles and responsibilities in cotton cultivation, Sattva and IDH conducted a gender analysis of cotton cultivation — ‘Business Case for Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton in Maharashtra’.

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In the report, the gender analysis framework developed by Sattva helped build an understanding of the gender division of roles and responsibilities on the farm, participation in decision-making, and access to productive resources. The framework also analyzes the underlying gender and socio-cultural norms, which could influence the division of roles and access to ecosystem support. The results of this report build a business case for strengthening the role of women cotton cultivators.

Click on the DOWNLOAD link on the left for the full report.

To explore gender mainstreaming in the agriculture value chain, contact us today at impact@sattva.co.in

Shambhavi Srivastava

Shambhavi is a Senior Research Manager at Sattva and brings in 8 years of experience in research and public policy projects in the sectors of rural livelihoods, women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion. Shambhavi brings with her strong expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods using mixed-method approaches, statistical tools and experience with leading outreach and dissemination activities on the field and in the ecosystem. She has served as a Principal Investigator (PI) on numerous gender, public health, financial inclusion and rural livelihood projects.

Prior to Sattva, Shambhavi worked as Research Manager for Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR LEAD), India where she served as the PI and programme lead for policy projects in the Financial Inclusion vertical on multi-stakeholder projects in collaboration with partners such as DFID, Access Assist, SIDBI, Ministry of Finance and the University of Munich.

Shambhavi holds a Master of Arts degree in Cultural and Social Geography from the University of British Columbia, Canada, a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations and Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India and a Bachelors in Political Science from Lady Shriram Delhi University, India.

More than Money

Elderly self-help groups in rural areas provide more than just financial security.

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in India defines Self Help Groups (SHGs) as “small economical homogenous affinity groups of rural poor, voluntarily formed to save and mutually contribute to a common fund to be lent to its members as per group decision.” The loans that the rural poor can avail of is utilized in a number of ways, including generation of income through entrepreneurial pursuits.

Earning a living, however, is not the sole reserve of under-60-year olds. Given their vulnerabilities, elderly people in villages need it just as much. In the last two decades, HelpAge India has pioneered the creation of Elder Self-Help Groups or ESHGs in rural India to provide livelihood support to the elderly. The success of this model has led to its adoption by the Ministry of Rural Development for the National Rural Livelihoods Mission in India, for 5,543 ESHGs, impacting 67,014 elders across 12 states in India. The ESHG members may save as low as an amount as INR 30 (USD 0.42) per month per person, and then pool their resources to inter-lend within their group of 10-20 people, eventually moving on to larger loans through financial linkages with banks. They may then individually or collectively engage in income generating activities, such as taking on the project of cooking the midday meal for children in the village school.

While ESHGs have potent financial impact on the lives of the aged, there are also some lesserknown social aspects that are harder to quantify and may often be empirical in nature. However, there is no denying the positive impact they have on the personal psyche and relationships of seniors.

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Increased inter-generational bonding
Travels into rural West Bengal brought us in touch with 10 such ESHGs, including a few 80-year-olds who walked into the ESHG meeting bent over crude walking sticks. They were too old to earn the INR 1 (less than 2 US cents) a day that they had to contribute to the collective savings fund. They proudly announced though, that their grandchildren gave them INR 1 a day from their own daily “pocket-money” of INR 5 so that the grandparents could be a part of the ESHGs. Though anecdotal in this instance, ESHGs have been known to increase intergenerational bonding within the family due to similar circumstances.

Improved status within the family
Old age is sometimes associated with familial neglect. However, ESHG members often enjoy improved status within their families. One of the reasons for this is that they are able to contribute to the family income through their own earnings via the ESHG. Even in the absence of such earnings, the elderly nominate family members who will be the recipient of their ESHG savings and the interest it accrues upon their demise. Having an inheritance to leave behind therefore also contributes to their improved social standing within the family.

Antidote to loneliness
Even with improved social status in the family, loneliness is a real concern for the aged. Amidst their own work and household chores, family members may have little time to spare to engage with the elderly folks in the house.

However, village elders who had become ESHG members said that they had organized outings to picnic spots and religious sites as a group – something they had never tried before. Others mentioned that when ill-health hampered their mobility, the whole group congregated close to their house for the weekly meetings so that they could be a part of it. Interestingly, the elderly having their own social circle led to decreased stress for the care-givers in the family too, and therefore often resulted in more harmonious family relationships.

Broadened horizons and collective action
Among the most remarkable effects of the ESHGs however, is the impact of exchange tours to other ESHGs. Not only does this expose members to wonders they had never experienced in their own lives (like travelling by train for the first time, or seeing running water flowing out of a tap), it also gets them acquainted with best practices of other groups. There have been reports of groups who almost doubled their contribution to the savings fund to provide small stipends for more destitute members. Dolon Mukherjee, a Ph.D. scholar in gerontology and a HelpAge India veteran, commented that ESHGs who had met such groups came back to their own villages and started to save INR 2 instead of INR 1 per month. The reason? To set up a parallel avenue of pensions for members of their ESHGs who did not have access to state pensions and social security benefits.

Elder Self-Help Groups have, therefore, not just helped the elderly financially, but also given them a new lease on their social and personal lives in their twilight years.
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This article was originally published in Impact Magazine and can be accessed here.

You can find more Insights from Sattva here.

To talk to us for collaborations or partnerships, you can write to us: impact@sattva.co.in

How we halved open defecation in a New Delhi slum in a year

With 1.1 billion people relieving themselves in the open, India accounts for more than 59%, of open defecation worldwide (source: WHO). Open defecation is the leading cause of diarrhea and worm infections, which result in more than half a million children in our country dying annually. Even of those who survive, many are physically and cognitively stunted for the rest of their lives (source: WHO). According to World Bank, India loses 2.4 Trillion Rupees each year due to poor and inadequate sanitation conditions (Source: World Bank) While over 1.2 million of Delhi’s slum population is dependent on community toilets, only 55% of this infrastructure is usable (Source: Action Aid), leaving half a million people defecating in the open.

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To truly understand the problem at its core, my team in Enactus – an international student-led social entrepreneurship body – studied the demand and supply factors of public sanitation. We learnt that:

1) People in slums avoid using toilets, given their filthy state. This, along with age old misconceptions, leads to rampant open defecation. Lack of ownership towards community toilets provokes vandalism, rendering them defunct.
2) Currently, the community toilets are developed by the government and then the operationalisation of these toilets is handled by maintenance firms who file a tender for it. The toilet maintenance firms face shortages of trained staff resulting in substandard operations.
3) Despite efforts by the govt to expand infrastructure, funds end up being utilised for reconstruction of defunct complexes.

Seeing an opportunity to work on systemic failures, four colleagues and I created Project Raahat in 2016.

Raahat has a twofold mission – to eradicate open defecation and provide safe sanitation to urban slum communities by innovating in management of community toilet complexes and sensitising people on good sanitary practices

We took our model and pitched it to different Urban Local Bodies and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) who finally gave us a pilot site in Sultanpuri, a slum cluster in North Delhi. Our intervention comprised the following:

Entrepreneurial Model: To overcome the problem of substandard maintenance our team developed an entrepreneurial model. We selected two unemployed yet aspiring individuals from the community as caretakers. Through extensive and continuous training, we equipped them with the knowledge of plumbing and cleaning practices, interpersonal skills and bookkeeping.

Revenue Model: Further, as mandated by the Government, a nominal fee is charged from the toilet users which forms the income of the entrepreneur after allowing for maintenance expenses and reserves.

Customised Sensitisation: We customised sensitisation activities to suit different demographics. For example, we gamified the topic with hopscotch and relay races to educate children on proper use of toilets. We created a own fictional character called Raahi, who became a mascot for propagating sanitation amongst slum children. Our campaigns for women covered topics such as healthy pregnancy and menstrual hygiene. Aesthetic modifications were made using wall art based on popular Bollywood and cartoon themes to encourage people to use toilets.

Payment Alternatives: Pay and use toilets are characterised by long waiting lines and the compulsion of having to pay each time, deterring people from using them. To resolve this, we introduced the Raahat Suvidha ticket. These tickets can be purchased in bundles at a discount and offer user convenience and flexibility.

Security: By employing nightguards and installing surveillance mechanisms, the toilet facility was operational 24/7. Women no longer have to relieve themselves in the open in the darkness of night.
Data Analysis: To effectively monitor usage levels of the toilet complex, we installed a people counter which measures footfall and segregating the population according to demographics. When usage statistics decline, remedial action is taken by the entrepreneurs in the form of targeted sensitisation to ensure continued usage.

Exit Strategy: We defined benchmarks in terms of number of users and rate of open defecation. Once these were surpassed, all responsibilities of complex management were transferred to the entrepreneurs.

With a baseline and endline done by DUSIB, Sultanpuri showcased a reduction in open defecation from 70% to 35% in a year, a first-time achievement in any slum cluster of Delhi. We were also lauded by Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Mr. Manish Sisodia.

We developed a Standard Operating Procedure with DUSIB for all maintenance firms of Delhi. We have been consulting these firms on such maintenance practices too. Rs 9.8 million worth medical expenditures have been avoided through our intervention.

Key Takeaways

1) Giving ownership of sanitation to the community itself by including a community member for maintenance and care taking
2) Developing the area as a community space to shatter the image of a “dingy dirty place” to a place where you can visit without any fear or discomfort
3) Helping sustained usage of the facility by reducing the per usage cost and using data analytics to solve area specific problems

3 years later, Raahat has come a long way. We are 40 members strong, running 15 community toilet complexes in Delhi. We are now working with the Andhra Pradesh government to run our programme through government volunteers.

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For data on households in India that have access to a toilet, look at our data here.

Finclusion: Empowering Women Through Digital Finance

Did you know that poor women account for 1.1 billion of the world’s unbanked adults, or most of the financially excluded?

Financial inclusion needs to bridge gender gaps for it to become truly inclusive, and India has a long way to go in this respect.

In order for digital finance to reach rural women sustainably, there is a need to bring together stakeholders from policy, government, businesses, digital financial solution providers, community-based organisations, and funders, to discuss pathways to collaboration for sustained outcomes.

To achieve this, L&T Financial Services and Sattva have taken a bold first step in focusing their efforts on digital financial inclusion of women in rural India through the conception of Finclusion: Empowering Women Through Digital Finance – a participatory dialogue on learnings, gaps and potential to harness digital financial inclusion for rural women in India.

The summit will take place on 1st February, 2019 from 9am to 2pm in New Delhi.

In an effort to establish knowledge sharing and thought leadership in this largely untapped ecosystem, Finclusion will bring together some of the most eminent thought leaders in the space, including Shri Krishnan Dharmarajan of Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion and Renana Jhabvala of SEWA Bharat among others.
With discussions on topics of great contemporary significance like “Partnerships in effective delivery of financial inclusion” among panellists like Prabhat Labh, CEO of Grameen Foundation and P. Satish, Executive Director of Sa-Dhan, the national-level platform hopes to facilitate vibrant discussions between stakeholders across the board, and ultimately, enable sharing of best practices, solutions and partnerships around women empowerment through digital finance.

Finclusion: Empowering Women Through Digital Finance is an event you won’t want to miss, especially if you wish to leave a lasting impact in the digital financial inclusion space.

To participate in our event, write to aashika.ravi@sattva.co.in.

Rahul Shah

Rahul is part the Consulting Services team in Mumbai, with experience working on organisational development with both small and large NGOs, CSR design and implementation, development impact bonds, fundraising and impact assessment.

His diverse experience in the development sector has evolved from his time working at the grassroots level in Ahmedabad, India, to community organising in his hometown of Washington, DC, consulting with social organisations across domains and managing multi-year development projects. Prior to joining Sattva, Rahul worked with TechnoServe India where he managed a CSR funded accelerator programme for women-led social enterprises and NGOs, and a USAID funded project transferring frugal agricultural innovations from India to Africa. In addition to his development sector work, he has five years of progressive experience in corporate finance with industry leading, Fortune 500 corporations in the United States.

Rahul has an MBA and an MS Finance from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business and an Executive Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Georgetown University.

Chaitanya Pathak

Chaitanya is a part of the Consulting Services (Implementation) team in Mumbai, working on design and implementation of CSR projects.

Before Sattva he has worked in the IT services industry with a business intelligence firm. He went on to a Gandhi Fellowship with Kaivalya Education Foundation, working with government systems and stakeholders in rural Rajasthan. Through all these years he continued to volunteer at Make A Difference (MAD), an organisation that works in improving life outcomes for underprivileged children. He is committed to using his knowledge and skills to make lives better, while being a catalyst for social change.

Chaitanya is a Gandhi Fellow and has a B.E. in Computer Technology from Yeshwantrao Chavan College of Engineering, Nagpur.

Urmi Patil

Urmi is a part of our Consulting Services team in Mumbai, supporting the design and implementation of CSR projects.

Before Sattva, she worked in southern Gujarat assisting Ph.D. scholars with their primary research and learning different participatory tools of engagement. She has worked in Government Primary Schools in Uttarakhand for two years where she was able to support schools on processes that improved the learning outcomes of children and enhanced participation of the community members. She has also worked with Mahila Mangal Dals, Yuvak Mangal Dals and Self Help Groups for their capacity building through community-based stakeholder mapping.

Urmi has a Bachelor of Arts, with Economics Honours from Christ University.

Shrutee Ganguly

Shrutee is part of the Consulting Services team, Delhi, and leads engagements with corporate and strategic account clients. She manages a team that works with various implementation partners and NGOs to create long term sustainable impact. Her role demands her to manage customer experience, define strategy and create valuable outcomes in the ecosystem.

Before Sattva she has had 16+ years in diverse corporate domains – banking, product management and consulting. Her key areas of expertise are Operational Excellence; Process Re-engineering, Programme Management, Coaching, Relationship Management & training. She has worked with senior leaders and operations staff to understand cultural dynamics, manage expectations, streamline processes and deliver results. It is her belief that the social sector needs some of these skills to streamline and structure their efforts to create impact and value. At Sattva, Shrutee has worked with the largest education non-profit in India to co-create models to recognise needs of middle management govt officials who are responsible for the policy and implementation at schools. She also worked closely with the client’s programme team to run pilots and gather relevant inputs from teachers and community on teaching practices, child engagement, good practices and challenges.

Shrutee is a post graduate in computer applications from Madras University and an IBM certified Lean coach.

Bobbymon George

Bobbymon heads Assessments in Sattva and is based in our Bangalore office.

He has delivered evaluation assignments across sectors and with key CSR accounts such as ABG, JPMorgan, ACC, Philips, L&T Infotech, L&T Financial Services, Dell and Fidelity. He comes with over 13 years of experience in the development sector, across programme design, implementation and Monitoring and Evaluation. He has led Programme Delivery, Curriculum Development, setting up Monitoring & Evaluation frame works and tools in non-profits.

He is also a master facilitator/trainer in Life Skills.