A scheme to provide skill development and leadership training to Muslim women exhibiting entrepreneurial skills is set to be rolled out soon by the Ministry of Minority Affairs as the Manmohan Singh Government begins work on a 100-day action plan for governance. The Minority Affairs Ministry is giving final touches to the scheme, aimed at empowering Muslim women who have been left out of the development trajectory. The scheme, which would be Centrally sponsored, is likely to have a flexible one-time financial support component as well. Though the scheme would be implemented directly by the Minority Affairs Ministry, the services of state governments and NGOs would be sought to identify the beneficiaries. A selection committee would be set up to screen the individual applications and the names forwarded by states and NGOs.
While the Ministry is yet to finalize the lower and upper limits of the financial support aspect, sources said the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation could be linked with the beneficiaries to ensure that they continued to get support till they became self-reliant. The Sachar Committee had pointed out that although Muslim women were 'overwhelmingly self-employed' and engaged in home-based work, they did not have independent access to credit facilities, opportunities for skill up-gradation, or access to markets. There was discrimination in giving Muslim women credit facilities. The Ministry's plan is to support such self-employed women to develop the leadership skills in them, sharpen their entrepreneurial talent and help improve their primary skills. The Sachar Committee had found that self-employed Muslim women were primarily engaged in activities like sewing, embroidery, agarbatti rolling and beedi making.