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Women Empowerment

By | April 2011
Page 1 of 3
The completion evaluation of the IFAD-supported Tamil Nadu Women's Development Project in India took place in late 1999. The project had aimed to bring about the social and economic betterment of women. The core mechanism was the women's self-help groups, which were set up with both financial (saving and lending) and community action objectives. At the time of the evaluation, a total of 5 207 of these groups had been formed, almost double the established target The evaluation noted that, at least in the latter phases, the project acted not as just "a credit-cum-subsidy project, but as a genuine process of empowerment." The evaluation concluded that such empowerment lay in the interaction between the social and economic aspects of the project.

Four of the main processes that could lead to women's empowerment, as defined by the IFAD evaluation, were:

* changes in women's mobility and social interaction;
* changes in women's labour patterns;
* changes in women's access to and control over resources; and * changes in women's control over decision-making.

Changes in women's mobility and interaction. The evaluation found that women had become more mobile and begun to have new interactions with a range of officials. There was even a growing willingness on the part of group members to approach the Panchayats and Collectors with petitions or grievances. In all, the evaluation found that:

* 50% of women group members had visited new places and travelled longer distances; and * 94% had experienced new interactions with staff of institutions such as banks, district and block development organizations, NGOs and the project itself.

The study observes that this type of change was most likely to occur among women group members when:

* the women involved were heads of households or were older; * the women involved had participated in training;
* their group members had accessed a bank loan;
* their group had undertaken...

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