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Indian minister for Women and Child Development lauds child protection and women empowerment initiatives by CUTS

India: “Child protection and women’s empowerment are two major pillars of India’s future development. We can’t simply ignore the valuable contribution that the one-half of our humanity is making towards the growth and development of our country,” said Maneka Gandhi, Women and Child Development Minister of India.

She was speaking today on the occasion of the release of “Stories of Change”, which captures some glimpses of a journey by the CUTS Centre for Human Development, Chittorgarh of its grassroots interventions in several districts of southern Rajasthan over a period of last 25 years. The occasion was graced by a number of female networkers, who are taking such messages forward to the society at large.Over the years, CUTS (Consumer Unity & Trust Society) has facilitated the formation of more than 1500 self-help groups in these districts, which are mostly managed by women.

Lauding the efforts of CUTS and its networkers across villages in these districts in creating opportunities for women to become entrepreneurs, she underlined the need for sensitizing the men-folk of the society on virtues of protecting girl child and empowering women. “Societal inequalities can only be addressed by reducing inequality in opportunities,” she added.

Speaking on the occasion, Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS, said: “When women are empowered, whole families benefit, and these benefits often have ripple effects to future generations.” This sentiment was echoed by BadamBai, who belongs to GadiaLohar community and is an ironsmith by profession in Ochdi village, Chittorgarh.

Life changed for her when, with support from CUTS, she formed Radhe Krishna self-help group of 11 members. She became the first woman from her community to take a step towards bringing a change. They took loans from banks to promote their traditional business.

The story of Reshma, who is a member of JwalaMahila self-help group in Bhilawara district, is that of another successful intervention by CUTS. Struggling to meet her ends as her husband was bedridden due to illness with no other earning member in the family she took loans to start a poultry business and to buy a sewing machine. She is now earning a decent income and is able to take care of her family.

Other than CUTS representatives and its networkers, the occasion was also graced by a number of representatives of CUTS’ development partners who are helping the organisation in taking forward its grassroots interventions. Notable among them were Deepshikha Prasad of ChildLine India Foundation, Alka Singh and Namrata Jaitley of Save the Children.

With its headquarters in Jaipur, Rajasthan, CUTS is a non-governmental organisation working from grassroots to the international policy-making arenas on diverse subjects such as consumer protection, good governance, economic regulations, international trade