Impact of participation of women in Self Help Groups and their empowerment: A study on the women from vulnerable delta region of West Bengal
Keywords:Self Help Groups (SHG), Functionality, Empowerment, Gender Equality
Purpose: To examine the relationship between participation in Self Help Groups (SHGs) and the overall socio- economic empowerment of women. Results: The comparative study covering 234 women representing functional and non-functional SHGs highlighted that the poor and vulnerable women often become inactive. A significant relationship was found between women’s active participation in SHGs and its impact on women’s perception of their rights and gender stereotypes, household decision making, and participation in other development activities. Women did access finance, though in a limited scale, due to the fear of repayment and lack of opportunities. Although the ability to take action differs in both categories of SHGs, women continue to experience domestic violence. Conclusion: Convergent effort needs to be undertaken to integrate gender equality and access to finance; to facilitate the process of empowerment of women through an inclusive method of forming, sustaining, mentoring and training the most vulnerable women in SHGs.