Traditionally, women around the world have always spared some time from their busy schedules to socialize with others. In India, what initially started as a mere meeting of women to hold discussions on recipes, parenting, and fashion led to the formation of a women empowerment phenomenon known as kitty parties.
Kitty parties allow women to step away from the humdrum of regular life to meet with friends and socialize. They provide women with an avenue to establish friendships, share grievances, practice self-care, and find solace in the sisterhood built during these encounters. Each month, a group of women come together to host a kitty party filled with music, games, and local delicacies. During this gathering, each guest contributes a fixed amount of money to a fund called a kitty. This kitty is created for a specific member each month. At the end of the kitty party, that member takes their winnings home and is responsible for hosting the next kitty party. This process continues until all the women in the group have received the kitty once, and then it begins again.
Kitty Parties and Women’s Empowerment
Traditionally, Indian men exert control over family finances and critical decisions. However, kitty parties provide women a degree of economic autonomy. Women gain control of a sizable sum of money, which is at their disposal to save, invest, or overcome a financial hardship. Women use a bulk of the kitty to finance their children’s education, fund wedding expenses or help with household needs. This enables women to have a voice in key family decisions ranging from children’s education to marriage prospects.
Kitty parties are also a way for women to network and promote their own small businesses, ranging from selling textiles to catering. Some women have created startup businesses from kitty earnings, thereby creating employment opportunities for other women. Not only do kitty parties serve to promote women’s entrepreneurial endeavors, but they also provide a means for women to assist members of society who need more help.
In villages throughout India, women use kitty party earnings to provide microloans to impoverished neighbors who do not have access to traditional banking and credit lines. To fill the banking gap, women issue small loans with a nominal interest rate. Once the loan is paid back, the original loan amount plus the interest earned is reinvested and provided to another community member in need. Women have collective decision-making authority in deciding who will be the next loan recipient.
By providing women decision-making and financial autonomy, kitty parties serve to empower women while helping community members in need.
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