SELF-EVOLVING INSTITUTIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN IN RURAL INDIA: CASE FROM WEST BENGAL(INDIA)
 
Mishra, R. and Ghosh, M., Centre for the Development of Human Initiatives, India and van Steenbergen, F., Arcadis Euroconsult, The Netherlands
 
Institutions are created for various objectives and goals by the partners who wish to define and achieve them. Some of the institutions are created by the outsiders who do not have the real stake in the goals and objectives while others evolve around certain needs felt by the stake holders. Institutions to be able to facilitate sustainable development must be allowed to evolve itself and its goals and objectives defined and determined by the stake holders themselves. Through a process of iterative learning and reflections such institutions grow on their own strength and seek to achieve their goals through their own self generated energy and there by facilitate a process of sustainable development much more dynamically than the institutions with externally determined goals and objectives. The present work is based on an action research input in which the author, together with a multi-disciplinary team, facilitated a self -evolving institution for planning and executing women development activities including generation of income opportunities for more than 10,000 women spread across three districts in Eastern India(West Bengal).Starting with a single group with 15 members the author facilitated formation of a federation of women with more than 300 groups and 25 clusters. The federation evolved and graduated on its own propelled by its own felt needs and internal dynamics in which the goals and objectives, structure and process and the rules were decided and determined by the members themselves based on their own learning over time. The federation proved much more sustainable than the externally determined institutions facilitated by the Government agencies for the same objective of empowering and strengthening the rural women. The outcome of the study has profound policy implication in terms of sustainability as the outcome of the study goes to prove.