Kudumbashree means different things to different people. For some, it is the poverty eradication project of the State government of Kerala. Some others view it as an exclusive domain of women engaged in social work. Yet in some others, the term Kudumbashree evokes the image of the women in uniform who come to collect waste from their door steps.
For several people, Kudumbashree is like a blessing; a God-send. It appears as food to the hungry, as medicine to the sick, as a helping hand to the ailing. Sections of men also see Kudumbashree as an unwanted platform that made women arrogant. There are politicians who think Kudumbashree as a channel to reach the poor; there are also politicians who see Kudumbashree as a hindrance to decision-making process. Certain others see it as a platform from where women enter politics.
The poverty eradication mission is called Kudumbashree. In a village setting, a NHG is called Kudumbashree. The CDS is called Kudumbashree. CDS chairperson is referred to as Kudumbashree chairperson. Women believe that it is Kudumbashree that supplies nutrimix to Anganawadis.
If all of these is Kudumbashree, then, what is its history? How did it evolve? What we are trying to understand is how Kudumbashree – the community network of women and the Mission that supports it – came into being. Tracing it would amount to placing it in context, and examining the experiments and experiences from which the idea called Kudumbashree evolved.