report of the high level Committee on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India (Popularly known as the Sachar Report) had highlighted the fact that India's largest minority group have been left out of the development trajectory and within this group Muslim women are doubly disadvantaged. Keeping this in view, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has launched 'Scheme for Leadership Development of Minority Women'.

The scheme was launched in January, 2010 and is being implemented from 2010-11.

The objective of the scheme is to empower and instill confidence in women including their neighbors from other communities living in the village/locality by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government system.

The scheme is envisaged to reach out to women through nongovernmental organizations who will be provided with financial support for conducting leadership development trainings so that women are empowered and emboldened to move out of the confines of home and community and assume leadership roles and assert their rights collectively or individually.

The minority communities served by the Ministry of Minority Affairs are Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) as notified as minority communities. Eligible women of these minority communities would be the target group. However, the scheme permits a mix of women from other non-minority communities not exceeding 25% of a project proposal.

Although there will be no annual income bar, woman/parent or guardian, woman having annual income not exceed Rs.2.50 lakh from all sources would be given preference in selection. They should be between the age group of 18 years to 65 years.

There are two types of training:

(i) Leadership development training in the village/locality. Upto 50 women in a village/locality who are dedicated, motivated and committed to work for the betterment of the welfare of women from the minority communities in particular. At least, 10% of the total woman in a group of 50 women should have passed Class X. This may be relaxed to class V level in case women who have passed class X are not easily available.

(ii) Leadership development training in residential training institutes. Out of a group of 50 women for residential training, not more than five women from a single village/locality may be selected in residential government training institutes. They should possess at least a graduation degree, which may be relaxed to class X certificate holder in case graduates are not easily available, and should be dedicated, motivated, physically fit and healthy and committed to work for the betterment of the welfare of women from the minority communities in particular and the society in general.

The leadership development training scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs through the organizations/institutes. Apart from non-governmental organizations, organisations/institutions which would be eligible for applying for financial assistance under this scheme are given below :-

i) A Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860,

ii) A Public Trust registered under any law for the time being in force,

iii) A Charitable Company licensed under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 and

iv) Universities/Institutions of higher learning.

v) Panchayati raj institutes.

Expression of Interest is invited by the Government through advertisement in the newspapers and organizations fulfilling the pre-qualification criteria are short listed.

Nurturing/hand holding service envisaged in the scheme linked with involvement and availability of facilitators at the doorsteps of the target group. The personnel of the organization is required to visit the village/locality periodically for providing nurturing/handholding service to the group of women imparted training so that they are guided in the use of tools and techniques taught to them for extracting the benefit from their efforts.

The organization, in collaboration with the District Collector/ Deputy Commissioner/ SDO/ Block Development Officer, is required to organize a half day workshop to sensitize government functionaries, bankers including Panchayati Raj functionaries etc. at the district, Sub Division/ Block, etc. concerned about the women empowerment programme carried out by them under the scheme. In this workshop, the functionaries would be informed of the remedial action which may be brought and sought by groups of women and to be responsive in addressing their problems and grievances.