Self Help Groups are an effective tool to women empowerment. Explain with example the roles played by SHGs in women empowerment. Discuss some government initiatives in helping the SHGs?

Self Help Groups are an effective tool to women empowerment. Explain with example the roles played by SHGs in women empowerment. Discuss some government initiatives in helping the SHGs?
  • Briefly introduce with what are Self Help Groups.
  • Show how they help in women empowerment.
  • Discuss some of the problems faced by SHGs and government initiatives to help SHGs.
  • Conclude Appropriately.
Model Answer :
A Self Help Group (SHG) is a group of micro entrepreneurs having homogeneous social and economic background, all voluntarily coming together to save small sums to contribute to a common fund to meet their emergency needs on the basis of mutual help. They can save their collective savings in banks, and receive easy access to loans with a small rate of interest to start their micro unit enterprise.
Women empowerment:
Women have been the great beneficiaries of the SHG movement. SHG is a viable organized set up to disburse micro credit to the rural women and encouraging them together into entrepreneurial activities. This can be seen from the fact that, at present there are 29 lakh SHGs existing in the country with a membership of over 3 crore 40 lakh women as active participants. For example, Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad (SMGULP) is considered as one of the most remarkable SHGs that is identified with women empowerment in  India. Recently, women SHG have got involved in solid waste management, Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) for agricultural implements etc.
SHGs bring group consciousness among women, give a sense of belonging, self-confidence and facilitate understanding about her own rights, roles, privileges and responsibilities as a member of society. It enables them to become participants, decision makers and beneficiaries in the democratic, economic social and cultural spheres of life.
Government initiatives:
SHGs face various problems in terms of capacity building such as the need of support in accounting, financial management, marketing, access loans, skill development etc.
There are various initiatives by government to overcome these problems such as :
  • District Rural Development Agencies: They organise melas of SHG products on regular basis for selling their products.
  • Self Help Group – Bank Linkage Program: Under this programme, banks were allowed to open savings accounts for Self-Help Groups (SHGs). It is being implemented by  commercial banks, co-operative banks and rural regional banks.
  • Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (later renamed NRLM, Ajeevika) – To bring the assisted poor families above the poverty line by organising them into Self Help Groups (SHGs) through the process of social mobilisation, their training and capacity building and provision of income generating assets through a mix of bank credit and government subsidy.
  • NABARD’s eShakti: To promote digitisation of SHGs.
Since its inception, SHGs have come a long way, through economic and social assistance. They have proven to not just uplift the livelihoods but have also empowered the social, economic and political lives. Now, it is important for stakeholders to invest in providing the right kind of support to maximise the impact these groups can have on livelihoods.

Subjects : Develop Sector

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