Self-Help Groups & Networks Groups

The Rural Development Trust has been invested in empowering rural women, their collective autonomy and rights, by forming and strengthening the functioning of Self-Help Groups.

In the early 80’s, RDT teams were not allowed to talk to women directly. Men, who had the sole decision-making powers, blocked all interactions. They resisted their wives’ participation in activities of socioeconomic consequence.

Women themselves expressed fear and inhibition, and there was a general lack of understanding about the resources of the Government.

Women sanghams

RDT constituted a team of community organizers and social workers to initiate the women programme in about 10-15 villages on experimental basis. After establishing a good rapport with women and their families, the team started organising the women into the first self-help groups or sanghams.

Sanghams are currently formed by 15 to 20 women belonging to a particular village. The purpose is to provide a space where women can talk about their problems and concerns and promote networks of mutual solidarity and support.

Through self-help groups, RDT also encourages the creation of mini-banks.

Network Groups

Network groups were created as an intersection between all self-help groups. They are formed by sangham leaders in a particular area and they often also include a man and a person with disabilities.

The members of the network groups also usually part of their local Community Development Committee.

They have an expanded view of the work in other self-help groups and receive regular training on topics like HIV/AIDS, family planning, governmental schemes, etc.


“Sanghams provide an opportunity for women to show that, if they work together, they can achieve even what the men had failed to achieve and that there is value for their decisions at both family and community level.”

Prameela Kumari, RDT & WCT Member


“After the demise of my husband, I had to completely shoulder the responsibility of taking care of my two children. I joined the sangham in our village as I felt the need for support and guidance. Earlier, women in our village had no space of their own; men made all the decisions and did not like our presence in the meetings. RDT teams started awareness camps in Sangham and interaction with women within and outside our village. Sangham became our collective strength.
Today, I am the leader of the sangham in our village. By taking this lead role in the management of the group, I learnt a lot on social issues and became independent in managing financial transactions. My self-confidence has improved a lot, for which I am very grateful to RDT.”

Ms. Nagamma, P. Kondapuram Village, Pamidi Area