Support to Training and Employment Programme (STEP) for Women was launched by the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India, as one of the measures to ensure well being of women in the traditional informal sector in the year 1986 and advocates the objective of extending training for upgradation of skills and sustainable employment for women through a variety of action oriented projects which employ women in large numbers.
The Programme of STEP aims to make a significant impact by upgrading skills and providing employment to women on a project basis by mobilising women in viable groups, improving skills, arranging for productive assets, creating backward and forward linkages, improving /arranging for support services, providing access to credit and awareness generation programmes in gender sensitization, nutrition education, legal literacy and sensitization of project functionaries. Thus STEP advocates a package of inputs aiming at the integrated development of poor women in traditional sectors. The ultimate endeavour of the project is to develop the group to thrive on a self sustaining basis in the market place with the minimal Governmental support and intervention after the completion of project period.
Karnataka Milk Federation(KMF) initiated the STEP Programme in Karnataka from October 1997. Since then, KMF has organized 800 Women Dairy Cooperative Societies(WDCS) in three Phases and in Phase IV converted 250 WDCS organized prior to the advent of STEP into STEP WDCS. In addition to these in the year 2007, the Government of India has approved two more Phases – Phase V for organizing of 200 new WDCS and Phase VI for bringing the 200 existing WDCS into the fold of STEP. Thus 1450 WDCS are sanctioned by Government of India(till Jan’09 WDCS are 1189) at a total outlay of Rs.3974.64 lakh and has released till January-2009 Rs.2686.10 lakh. Each WDCS gets a grant of approximately Rs.2.50 to 3.00 lakh for establishment, management and for granting interest-free loan for purchasing milch animals. The share of Government of India is 90% and implementing agency i.e. KMF and its Member Milk Unions share is 10%.
The KMF is implementing STEP Scheme through its 13 Member District Milk Unions. The District Milk Unions form the STEP Core Team which through Bench Mark Survey identifies the Target Group Members that include the marginalized, assetless, wage labourers, women headed households, migrant labourers, tribals and other dispossessed rural women. Thus the beneficiaries in the project will be poor or assetless marginalized women with special focus on SC/ST households, woman headed households and families below poverty line.
The main features of the STEP Scheme is Training, Providing margin money conducting Awareness Generation Programme at village level and visit to Amul in Anand,Gujarat. The STEP WDCS also carries out programme for the benefit of rural women, apart from milk procurement, milk marketing and providing technical input for their members.
To provide intensive knowledge to all the members of the society for welfare of their family members in terms of health and hygiene, balanced food, mother and child health care, safe drinking water, vaccination, preventive measures for diseases, usage of locally available vegetables, eradication of dogmatic social customs and rituals and prevention of malnutrition, demonstration of infant and young child nutritious food preparation from the locally available materials. 3 to 4 one day shibiras are conducted in each WDCS with a financial assistance of Rs.6,000/- to Rs.8,000/-.
Legal Literacy Programme is conducted at village level with the assistance of eminent advocates particularly lady advocates who are taken to the village to impart awareness on rights of women in property, prevention of dowry, authorities to approach in case of domestic violence, harassment etc. The visits are arranged to Courts, Police Stations, Tahsildar Offices and Banks to acquaint themselves regarding the working of these institutions. 3 to 4 one day shibiras were conducted.
This programme is conducted to sensitize women members in gender differences and to promote girl child education on par with male child and widow re-marriages. Know-how regarding agencies working for the welfare of women and the financial assistance available from Government agencies is provided to create self-sustaining ability in women folk. 3 to 4 one day shibiras were conducted along with one day shibira for male orientation for the husbands of the women members to sensitize them regarding multifarious problems faced by women and to enlist their cooperation in running institutions managed by women.
The visit to world famous Amul Dairy in Anand, Gujarat is arranged for the Presidents, Directors and Members of the Dairy Cooperatives for emulating the good features from Amul Societies into their societies as it is said "seeing is believing".
Margin money of Rs.5,000/- is provided to Target Group Members (earlier it was Rs.3,000/-) for purchasing milch animals to uplift their economic conditions. Financial institutions demand at least 20% of margin money from each beneficiary. The beneficiary is economically weak may not afford to pay margin money. Hence, Rs.5,000/- is provided as an interest-free loan to 15 members in Phase-V & 12 members in Phase-IV which remain as a revolving fund with the dairy cooperatives and enable the society to extend margin money benefit to rest of the Target Group Members of the WDCS on continuous basis. Thus Rs.60,000 to Rs.75,000/- is provided to each society.
Another important feature of WDCS is promotion of Self-Help Groups(SHG) by its Target Group Members. STEP Programme implementation proposes formation of at least one Self-Help Group. In this way 1375 SHGs are formed with a savings of Rs.475.33 lakhs. The Nandini Self-Help Groups which are centers of empowerment are working for the socio-economic development of rural women.
The positive intervention by KMF with the help of Government of India is resulting in slow emergent of movement of rural women, who have seen little beyond their immediate work at home, their farm and the village.
The aim is to enhance women’s bargaining power as members of the society by increasing their access and control over household and community resources.
Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) launched Karnataka State Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (KSRLPS), aimed at enhancing livelihood opportunities of the rural poor. Sanjeevini-KSRLPS part of the national Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) supported by Government of Karnataka. The Swarnajayanthi Gram Swarozgar Yojana launched in 1999 - focusing on self employment programmes through self mobilization of the poor into groups - had not succeeded in alleviating poverty. Hence, NRLM started ‘Sanjeevini’ focusing on three aspects - social inclusion which includes mobilization of the poor and building their institutions; financial inclusion which includes linking Self-Help Groups(SHGs) and banks, financial literacy and banking for those left out of the banking system; economic inclusion which includes livelihood promotion.
KMF initiated ‘Ksheera Sanjeevini’ - Phase-I project with Sanjeevini-KSRLPS from April 2014. The proposed project brings 250 existing Women Dairy Co-operative Societies by the 13 District Milk Unions into the fold of Ksheera Sanjeevini. It is anticipated to enroll 10,000 women as Target Group Members (TGMs) with a procurement of 62,000 liters of milk per day. This project will provide direct employment to 750 rural women in 250 WDCS. The outlay of the project is Rs.17.10 Crores for three years. The project cost per beneficiary would be Rs.17,100/-, each WDCS gets a grant of approximately Rs.4.55 Lakhs for Management, Training, awareness Programmes and for granting interest free loan for purchasing milch animals, Insurance for the animals and transportation & Cattle feed for one time. The share of Sanjeevini-KSRLPS is 86.85% and implementing agency i.e., KMF and its member Unions share is 13.15%. The Project envisages enhancing the net income of women by Rs.3000/- to Rs.3500/- per month by the end of the project.The project aims at socio economic development of women through dairy farming.