Micro Finance and Women Empowerment

Topics: Microfinance, Poverty, Self-help groups for mental health Pages: 14 (4376 words) Published: April 11, 2010
‘Micro Finance and Women Empowerment ’

By Ms. Varsha Parikh

Department of Extension and Communication
Faculty of Family and Community Sciences
The M.S.University of Baroda
Vadodara 390002,Gujarat, India
E-mail : vbparikh@rediff.com
Micro Finance and Women Empowerment
By Ms. Varsha Parikh


Self-help groups intermediated by microcredit have been shown to have positive effects on women. Micro finance refers to small savings, credit and insurance services extended to socially and economically disadvantaged segments of society. At present one of the successful ways through which microfinance services are being provided to poor people is through Self-Help Groups. The performance of different states SHGs data presented by different authors in different states shows new direction where microfinance is helping poor women coping with vulnerable situations building of assets, new livelihoods and accumulated savings help the coping strategies of the poor. Thus, present paper focus on the concept of SHGs and Micro Finance in India, Performance of SHGs and Microfinance scenario in different states of India, SHGs and Bank linkages in India and impact of microfinance on empowering women along with suggestions. Key Words : SHGs, Micro Finance, Statewise performance of SHGs & Microfinance, SHGs and Bank linkage, suggestions Micro Finance and Women Empowerment

By Ms. Varsha Parikh

Empowerment is defined as the processes by which women take control and ownership of their lives through expansion of their choices. Thus, it is the process of acquiring the ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability has previously been denied. The core elements of empowerment have been defined as agency (the ability to define one’s goals and act upon them), awareness of gendered power structures, self-esteem and self-confidence (Kabeer 2001). Empowerment can take place at a hierarchy of different levels – individual, household, community and societal – and is facilitated by providing encouraging factors (e.g., exposure to new activities, which can build capacities) and removing inhibiting factors (e.g., lack of resources and skills). “The status of women is a barometer of the democratization of any state, an indicator of how human rights are respected in it” (Mikhail Gorbachev). The root cause of women’s oppression in India is patriarchy which has snatched off their legitimate powers leaving them completely defenseless and weak. Despite more than five decades of interventions to raise the status of women since independences, women in rural areas continue to be overwhelmed by social and economic bosses. Rural women throughout India, irrespective of caste and religion, continue to have a subordinate status both within home and outside. Extent of awareness and access to credit, higher level of education and training are prime determinants of women’s status and role in the process of development. Thus for women, two vital processes have been identified as important for empowerment. The first is social mobilization and collective agency, as poor women often lack the basic capabilities and self-confidence to counter and challenge existing disparities and barriers against them. Often, change agents are needed to catalyse social mobilization consciously. Second, the process of social mobilization needs to be accompanied and complemented by economic security. As long as the disadvantaged suffer from economic deprivation and livelihood insecurity, they will not be in a position to mobilize (UNDP 2001).

Concept of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in India
In India, Self – Help Group (SHG) is a small voluntary association of poor people, preferably from the same socioeconomic background. They come together for the purpose of solving their common problems through self-help and mutual help. The SHG promotes small savings among...

References: Karmakar K.G., Micro Finance in India(Ed).Sage publications, New Delhi, 2008
Debadutta Kumar Panda , ‘Self Help through Microfinance: A Paradigm Shift in Orissa, India’
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