How women SHGs turned Covid-19 challenge into an opportunity

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on June 22, 2020

About 1,500 women in Amravati district of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra have combated Covid-19 with a constructive answer. Using locally available cotton cloth, women here sewed about 1.55 lakh masks to earn an income of ₹17.25 lakh.

Divided into 178 self-help groups (SHGs), these women sold these masks in the local market to earn livelihood during the lockdown.

Demand for masks

But it is not just women in Amravati who have turned the Covid-19 challenge into an opportunity. The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) document titled Innovative Agri-Solutions During Covid-19 reports that the sudden outbreak of the virus resulted in an unprecedented demand for masks, which resulted in a huge supply deficit for masks in the market.

“During this lock time period, the farm women, members of the SHGs prepared masks, head-covers and gloves of cotton cloth under the strict quality standards suggested to them by the Krishi Vigyan Kendras. Cotton masks being washable, economical, healthier than the masks having synthetic material were loved by the people”, the report states.

Members of various SHGs not only distributed these masks free of cost to the needy, but also earned a nominal income by selling them. The SHGs have so far supplied more than 50,000 masks to the Covid-19 warriors, the report added.

Five SHGs from Patiala and Moga in Punjab received orders from the government and private hospitals for protective kits, while SHGs in Kota (Rajasthan) made 4,000 masks and sold them at ₹10 per unit to medical shops and Krishi Upaj Mandis. The group gifted 1,000 masks to health workers, farm women and jails. “This linking of SHGs to mask-making is helping them earn significant income in this distress situation”, according to the ICAR.

Community warriors

According to the Ministry of Rural Development, about 690 lakh women members belonging to around 63 lakh SHGs across the country have contributed to addressing the economic and social needs that have emerged at the community level. “These women are engaged in livelihood activities, bringing social change through awareness generation, leading movements and responding during natural calamities. During the on-going crisis also, SHG members have emerged as community warriors by contributing in every possible way to contain the spread of Covid-19”, the Ministry stated in a recent statement.

Published on June 22, 2020

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