ANDHRA PRADESH, India – India has one of the lowest labor participation rates for women in the world: only 27 percent have paid employment. But in eastern India, dedicated groups of women are gathering to support each other in getting into the workforce.
The groups, known as Shanghams, are self-governing associations that meet every month to pool money, provide loans, share advice and help resolve any issues women’s businesses may face.
Shanghams were introduced to rural communities in the state of Andhra Pradesh in the late 1980s by the Spanish organization Fundacion Vicente Ferrer. The groups have helped lift some of the country’s most marginalized women out of poverty.