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Women power at display as SHGs in J&K manufacture 1.50 lakh masks in a few weeks

Srinagar: In the ongoing battle against coronavirus, at least 395 Self Help Groups (SHGs) led by women in J&K have produced more than 1.5 lakh face masks.

The SHGs are working under the aegis of Ministry of Rural Development’s National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM).

The SHGs have risen to the extraordinary challenge of COVID-19 and helped in meeting shortfall in masks, sanitizers and, fighting misinformation and even providing banking and financial solutions to far-flung communities.

Now, more than ever, these women – many of whom escaped poverty through the SHG route and know what it is like to be destitute and poor – are living up to their motto of self-help and solidarity.

Groups across all the districts of J&K are working furiously to make up the shortfall of masks.

In Jammu, for instance, poor rural women who were once engaged in stitching school uniforms are sewing masks instead.

Apart from producing 1.5 lakh masks, the SHGs have also distributed over 500 litres of hand sanitizers within the community.

“Since production is decentralized, these items have reached widely-dispersed populations without the need for complex logistics and transportation,” Sham Lal Additional Mission Director JKRLM Jammu told The Kashmir Monitor.

The women led SHGs are also disseminating Covid-19 related information among hard-to-reach population.

In Jammu division, for instance, the SHGs are spearheading the government’s ‘Break the Chain’ campaign by raising awareness about hand hygiene and social distancing through mobile phones, posters and weekly meetings.

Besides these services, the women in these SHGs who also work as banking correspondents have emerged as a vital resource. 

Deemed as an essential service, these bank sakhis have continued to provide doorstep banking services to far-flung communities, in addition to distributing pensions and enabling the neediest to access credits into their accounts through direct benefit transfers (DBT).

JKRLM have given these women special orientation and provided them with financial incentives to enable them to continue to work during the lockdown.