Lucknow/Washington, DC – On the second day of his visit to India, former US President Bill Clinton traveled to Lucknow, where he met representatives of the GL Gupta Institute of Public Health to receive a memorandum for a possible collaboration between the institute and Bill Clinton Foundation engaged in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the health services to the vulnerable sections of the population.
Commenting on the meeting, M.K. Agarwal, Director, G.L. Gupta Institute of Public Health, University of Lucknow said, “It would be a win-win situation as we are providing skilled manpower to the society for the public health besides we have better capacity to help the Bill Clinton Foundation.”
Clinton also visited a Clinton Health Access Initiative project that is advancing proper treatment for diarrhea and hosted a dialogue, “Entrepreneurship in Action: A No Ceilings Conversation.”
Former President Clinton also hosted a first No Ceilings conversation as part of his eight-day, five-country tour of the Clinton Foundation’s work in Southeast Asia. In the Jabrouli Village in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, with over 200 million inhabitants,Clinton was joined by 80 women for a conversation about the progress they’ve seen in their lives, their communities and the challenges they still face.
According to the Clinton Foundation editorial team, this was their fifth No Ceilings conversation – an event series aimed at hearing directly from women and girls about their experiences – and the second one they have held outside of the United States.
Those women are part of something called self-help groups (SHG), which are formed voluntarily in both rural and urban communities, often to pool financial resources that they can leverage for small loans and other economic opportunities. The SHG’s exist throughout India and have been enormously important in expanding women’s power and influence, both locally and within the government.
The editorial team noted that these also provide an incredible social value too: “helping women to get out of the house, develop deep and supportive friendships, and gradually build households and communities where women’s lives, opinions, and values matter.”
Citing a woman the team said although she had lived in poverty for years, she joined the SHG and then was able to talk through her challenges and learn ways to better support her family. Another woman who was left destitute when her husband unexpectedly died, shared that her local SHG loaned her money to start a small business, and now she is thriving. Yet another told the story of how she learned through her SHG that she could fight a land dispute in court, and with the group’s help, she won.
Collectively, the women spoke of increased confidence, self-respect, and the feeling of having an identity within their community. They shared how exciting it was to learn new things together, share that knowledge with others, and help more women gain the opportunities they’ve had. And already they’ve seen incredible change in their families and communities as a result of the SHGs. Many said that even older generations of women have shifted their views on women’s roles, and their sons and daughters are now growing up learning that women’s voices and values matter. One woman noted proudly that her son and husband now serve her tea, signaling how the roles of women are changing at home.
The former President Bill Clinton, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea Clinton along with a team of dedicated participants are working hard to remove all the challenges that remain on the path to equality.