Concepts, Research, Policy
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Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 91: Impacting Women through Financial Services: The Self Help Group Bank Linkage Programme in India and its Effects on Women’s Empowerment
Ranjula Bali Swain Microfinance programmes such as the Self Help Group (SHG) Bank Linkage Programme in India have been increasingly promoted for their positive economic impacts and the belief that they empower women. This chapter starts by examining the existing literature on microfinance’s impact on empowering women and presents a brief critique of some of these studies. Within the South Asian context, the next section discusses women’s empowerment, defining it as a process in which women challenge existing cultural norms within the societies in which they live to improve their wellbeing effectively (Bali Swain, 2007). This is followed by discussion on evidence for the empowerment of women using household data on members and non-members of SHG Bank Linkage Programme in India. The results from a household survey analysed with a ‘general structural model’, comprising indicators pertinent to economic, behavioural, social and political aspects of women’s lives demonstrate that there is a significant increase in women’s empowerment of the Self Help Group members, especially when compared with a non-member control group (see Bali Swain and Wallentin, 2007; although see also Garikipati, Chapter 92, this volume). Empowering women through microfinance Microfinance is the provision of a broad range of financial services such as deposits, loans, payment services, money transfers, and insurance to poor and low-income households. A majority of the microfinance programmes target women with the explicit goal of reducing poverty and empowering them. Some argue that women are among the poorest and the most vulnerable of the underprivileged and, thus, helping...
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