Microfinance, Self Help Groups and Women Empowerment: Current Issues and Concerns
This paper examines linkages between empowerment of women, entrepreneurship, self-help groups and microfinance.
The paper emphasizes the need to empower rural women to participate in decision making and economically productive activities. Gender inequalities are a major impediment in progress towards the Millennium Development Goals of poverty reduction. The paper states that enterprise development is among the most viable strategies for women’s’ empowerment. It highlights the role of self-help groups and microfinance in promoting rural enterprise and women’s empowerment, and identifies challenges in extending financial access to rural populations.
The paper presents success stories of self-help groups, enterprises and other initiatives that work for women’s empowerment. Examples include:
- Association of the Women of a village of Canglon (ASOMUCA), Panama;
- Rural Women’s Social Education Center, South India;
- Working Women’s Forum, Tamil Nadu;
- Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Gujarat;
- Lijjat, India;
- Mann Deshi Mahila Sah Bank Limited, Maharashtra;
- Hindustan Lever Limited’s Project Shakti;
- Gangai Vattara Kalanjia Mutuals, Tamil Nadu.