IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


19th May, 2023 Social Issues

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Context: The President of India inaugurated the silver jubilee celebrations of Kudumbashree, the largest self-help group network in the country.


  • The president also issued a manual titled Chuvadu (footsteps) that defined ideas for the movement's future and its successes so far.
  • The silver jubilee highlighted a self-evaluation of its successes, including an examination of its members' quality of life, planning the future of neighbourhood groups, and micro-level planning on sustainable development goals.



  • Kudumbashree, which means "prosperity of the family" in Malayalam, is a women-led community network that was launched in 1998 by the Government of Kerala.
  • The network aims to eradicate poverty and empower women through various social, economic and political interventions.
  • Today, Kudumbashree has more than 4.5 million members across 14 districts of Kerala, making it one of the largest women's collectives in the world.


  • To eradicate absolute poverty in Kerala within a definite time frame.
  • To empower women socially and economically through collective action and self-reliance.
  • To ensure local democracy and participatory development through decentralized planning and implementation.
  • To promote sustainable livelihoods and enterprises for the poor and marginalized sections of society.


  • Kudumbashree's approach is based on three pillars: microfinance, entrepreneurship and social development.
  • The network organizes women into neighbourhood groups (NHGs) of 10 to 20 members, who save money and access credit from banks through a federated structure of area development societies (ADS) and community development societies (CDS).
  • The NHGs also identify and support potential entrepreneurs among their members, who start various income-generating activities such as catering, tailoring, farming, handicrafts and tourism.
  • The network also provides training, marketing and quality control support to these enterprises. 

Main components 

Community organization

  • This involves forming neighbourhood groups (NHGs) of 10-20 women from poor families at the ward level, area development societies (ADS) at the panchayat level, and community development societies (CDS) at the municipal level.
  • These three-tier structures act as platforms for collective action, social mobilization, and empowerment of women.


  • This involves providing thrift and credit facilities to the NHG members through internal lending, linkage with banks, and other financial institutions.
  • Kudumbashree also facilitates access to various government schemes and subsidies for income-generation activities.


  • This involves promoting entrepreneurship and skill development among the NHG members through various types of micro-enterprises such as agriculture, animal husbandry, handicrafts, food processing, catering, tailoring, etc.
  • Kudumbashree also provides marketing support and quality assurance for the products and services of these enterprises.


  • This involves integrating various developmental programs and schemes of the government and other agencies with the activities of Kudumbashree. For example, Kudumbashree acts as an implementing agency for the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), etc.

Social development

  • This involves addressing various social issues and challenges faced by the poor and vulnerable sections of society such as health, education, nutrition, sanitation, gender violence, child protection, etc.
  • Kudumbashree also advocates for the rights and entitlements of its members and facilitates their participation in local governance and decision-making.


  • Kudumbashree has mobilized more than 4.5 million women from below-poverty-line (BPL) families into 2.77 lakh NHGs across Kerala.
  • It has generated a cumulative thrift of Rs. 5,000 crore and a cumulative credit of Rs. 25,000 crore among its members.
  • It has supported more than 2.5 lakh micro-enterprises with a total investment of Rs. 3,000 crore and an annual turnover of Rs. 6,000 crore.
  • It has created more than 10 lakh direct and indirect employment opportunities for its members.
  • It has ensured 100% financial inclusion and social security coverage for its members.
  • It has contributed to improving various socio-economic indicators such as income, consumption, savings, asset creation, education, health, nutrition, sanitation, etc. among its members.
  • It has won several national and international awards and recognitions for its innovative and effective model of poverty alleviation and women's empowerment


  • The significance of Kudumbashree lies in its holistic approach to poverty alleviation and women empowerment.
  • Kudumbashree's social development initiatives focus on addressing the issues that affect women's well-being and empowerment, such as health, education, gender violence, child care, sanitation and the environment.
  • The network also engages in advocacy and governance activities, such as participating in local self-government institutions, forming women's collectives for specific causes such as waste management and organic farming, and collaborating with other civil society organizations and government agencies.
  • It not only provides economic opportunities and financial inclusion to poor women but also enhances their social capital, self-esteem, leadership skills, and collective bargaining power.
  • It also creates a sense of ownership and accountability among the women for their development and well-being.


  • Scaling up and sustaining the quality and impact of its interventions in a diverse and dynamic context.
  • Enhancing the competitiveness and viability of its micro-enterprises in a globalized market.
  • Strengthening the institutional capacity and governance of its three-tier structures at various levels.
  • Addressing the emerging issues and needs of its members such as climate change adaptation, digital literacy, social inclusion, etc.
  • Building strategic partnerships and alliances with various stakeholders such as government agencies, civil society organizations, private sector entities, etc.

Steps need to be taken

  • Expanding its outreach and coverage to include more poor and marginalized sections of society such as tribal communities, urban slums dwellers, migrant workers, etc.
  • Diversifying its portfolio of products and services to cater to the changing needs and preferences of its customers.
  • Adopting innovative technologies and practices to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Enhancing its research and advocacy capabilities to influence policies and programs that affect its members.
  • Developing a robust monitoring and evaluation system to measure its outcomes and impacts.
  • Celebrating its achievements and sharing its learnings with other states and countries that aspire to replicate its model.


  • Kudumbashree's impact over the past 25 years has been remarkable. According to a study by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram, Kudumbashree has reduced the incidence of poverty in Kerala by 26% points between 1998 and 2018.
  • The network has also increased women's income, asset ownership, financial inclusion, decision-making power, self-confidence and social status.
  • Kudumbashree has contributed to improving the quality of life of its members and their families by enhancing their access to health care, education, sanitation and other basic services.


  • Kudumbashree's success story is an inspiring example of how women can transform their lives and communities through collective action and solidarity. The network has also demonstrated how a participatory and inclusive model of development can achieve sustainable and equitable outcomes for all.

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Self-Help Groups (SHGs): https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/self-help-groups-shgs


Q. Kudumbashree has been recognized nationally and internationally for its achievements and innovations in empowering women and reducing poverty. How does Kudumbashree operate as a model of participatory democracy and inclusive development? What are the key features, benefits, challenges, and prospects of Kudumbashree?