The need to empower women was a key point stressed at the International conference on Microfinance and Gender Empowerment held at SCMS-COCHIN on the 20th of July.
The one-day conference was part of the British Council’s Development Partnerships in Higher Education (DelPHE) project being conducted by SCMS-COCHIN.
Dr. G. P. C. Nayar, Chairman of the SCMS Group, said the purpose of the three-year DelPHE Project undertaken by SCMS – with the active collaboration of agencies from the UK, Ghana, and Tanzania – was to learn how projects for the empowerment of women could be improved.
Guest of honour, Abraham Thariyan, Executive Director, South Indian Bank, said that the empowerment of women was a great step without which there couldn’t be any meaningful economic growth in society.
Jayakumar Nair, Retail Business Head-Kerala Zone, ICICI Bank, said at the conference that providing equal opportunities to the two billion-strong weaker or at-risk section of the population – fully one-third of the total population of the human race – was the key to progress within the country.
Former Congress MLA from Wayanad, K. C. Rosakutty, Chairperson of the Kerala State Women’s Commission, chaired the first technical session entitled ‘Role of Government and NGOs in Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation’, at which K. Jayaprakash, Lead District Manager, Union Bank of India; George Thomas, Director of Operations, ESAF Microfinance and Investment and Shri Pappu, Consultant, RSBY, Government of India presented papers.
Dr. T. G. Arun, Professor at the University of Central Lancashire, UK, chaired the afternoon session, which centred on the ‘Sustainability of the Self-Help Group Model in Microfinance’.
A panel of experts, including Dr. D. Rajasekhar, Professor, Centre for Decentralisation and Development, ISEC, Bangalore; Dr. Tara S. Nair, Associate Professor, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad; Dr. Praveena Kodoth, Associate Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Ulloor, Trivandrum, Kerala and K.G. Jagadeesan, General Secretary, Gandhi Smaraka Gram Seva Kendram led the discussions.
Dr. Radha Thevannoor, Group Director, SCMS; Dr. V. Raman Nair, Director, SCMS and Prof. A.C. Jose also gave their views on the vital subject.
Others speaking at the conference included: Dr. Bernard Mnzava, Institute of Finance Management, Tanzania; James Atta Pepra, Yaalex Investment Ltd., Ghana, and Dr. Samuel Kobina Annim, University of Central Lancashire.