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Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas

Updated on :  

08 min read.

The Union Government launched the Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) as a sub-scheme of the Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP) in 50 districts in 1982-83. The government subsequently extended it to cover all the districts across the country by 1994-95.

The DWCRA is a centrally sponsored scheme of the Department of Rural Development. It was launched to strengthen the women’s component of poverty alleviation programmes. It focuses on women’s economic empowerment focusing on women as they are critical to the country’s development.

The DWCRA programme aims to raise the incomes of rural women in poor households and enables organised participation of women groups in the programmes of skill training, credit, and infrastructure support for self-employment. The DWCRA was merged with the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) on 1 April 1999.

Objectives of DWCRA

The DWCRA was introduced to ensure that the benefits of the IRDP reach women directly. Under the programme, groups of 15-20 women from poor households at the village level are formed to obtain access to services like skill training, credit, cash and infrastructural support for self-employment. The DWCRA programme seeks to enhance the quality of general well being of women and children by improving their access in the following areas:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Safe drinking water
  • Child care
  • Sanitation
  • Nutrition

The primary objective of the DWCRA is to improve the health, socio-economic and educational status of rural women by creating employment opportunities and providing financial assistance for them to become self-reliant and raise their standard of living. 

Strategy of DWCRA

The basic unit under the DWCRA programme is forming a group of 10-15 poor women who help each other and use their collective strength to break social bonds that deny them income-generating and self-fulfilling opportunities. The group size may be smaller in far-flung and difficult terrain areas. 

The group members or women of a group are made aware of their potential, strength, group objectives and benefits before undertaking group activities under the programme. The group members collectively decide the income generation activity that they would undertake based on their skills. One woman from the group functions as the group organiser who helps choose the procurement of raw materials, activities and marketing of products for the benefit of the group members.

The Gram Sevika provides coaching/inputs for undertaking group activities for two years at the operational level. The Gram Sevika creates a group, nurtures it and orients the group members in availing the benefits of various other schemes/programmes.

Implementing Agency and Staffing Pattern of DWCRA

The District Rural Development Agencies (DRDA) implements the DWCRA programme. To implement the programme, one post of Assistant Project Officer (Woman) is sanctioned to be part of the DRDA team. One additional post of the Gram Sevika is also sanctioned at the block level for looking after the activities of the women groups. 

The Assistant Project Officer (APO), additional Gram Sevika, two Gram Sevikas and Mukhya Sevikas who are available with a block form a team to help implement the DWCRA, conduct preliminary area surveys, establish contacts with the rural women, and identify their needs and constraints.

The team is also responsible for follow-up and monitoring the groups. The APO helps establish contacts with different agencies, mobilises training and resources facilities, and looks after the programme’s day-to-day administration within the DRDA. The implementation of the entire DRDA is the responsibility of the DRDA team headed by the project director or officer.

Community-Based Convergent Services Under DWCRA

The Community-Based Convergent Services (CBCS) was stated as a component of the DWCRA in 1991 in a few districts as a pilot programme. The objective of CBCS was to create awareness amongst the village communities, enable them to demand social services given by the state and share responsibilities in the implementation and management of these services, thus leading to sustainable development.

Traditional methods like role play, visuals, puppetry, folk art, drama, dance, etc., are some of the means for sensitising the community to the basic needs. The programme aims to strengthen the existing organisation of rural poor women and encourage the level of the economic and social status of women.

Child Care Activities Under DWCRA

Child Care Activities (CCA) was incorporated into the DWCRA programme during 1995-96 with the below objectives:

  • Providing creche services for children of working women
  • Setting up literacy centres for women, especially for girl child dropouts and illiterate members of the groups
  • Filling up crucial gaps in the areas of nutrition, immunisation, etc., for the children of the group members with a focus on the girl child for reduction of gender disparities in the infant girl child care
  • Providing relief to the physically disabled children of the group members
  • Providing pay and immediate relief for legal assistance in the case of redressal of physical abuse of a girl child

Coverage of DWCRA

Initially, there was no specific coverage of vulnerable groups under the DWCRA programme. However, in 1997-98, it was made compulsory that 50% of the groups have to be women belonging to ST/SC. Priority was also given to physically disabled persons, and girls and women rehabilitated from prostitution.

Funding Pattern of DWCRA

Each DWCRA group will get Rs.25,000 as a revolving fund to meet economic activities’ capital expenditure requirements. The Central Government, state government, and UNICEF shared the expenditure on the revolving funds until 1994-95. However, UNICEF assistance was not available from 1 January 1996. Later on, the Centre and state shared the expenditure for the revolving funds on a 50:50 basis.

Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are solely for information purposes. No attorney-client relationship is created when you access or use the site or the materials. The information presented on this site does not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your state.

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