Women in Self Help Groups and Panchayti Raj Institutions: Suggesting Synergistic Linkages

Studying processes of women empowerment
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This paper critically examines the contribution of two interventions, namely mandatory reservation in Panchayti Raj Institutions (PRIs) and self-help-groups (SHGs), to women's empowerment.

The paper presents views of advocates and sceptics of microfinance as a tool for women's empowerment. They include the following:

  • Advocates claim that the process SHG formation is empowering and creates a critical mass that can be harnessed to pull households out of poverty;
  • Sceptics state that this critical mass can be usurped by larger political and economic interests who simply use women as instruments;
  • Sceptics state that empowerment cannot be achieved through the handling of money alone since credit by itself does not bond women together enough to empower them;
  • Advocates of PRIs claim that participation in the democratic process empowers women;
  • Case studies indicate that women in PRIs do not necessarily wield the power that their seat and position accords to them;
  • Access to the seat does not guarantee control over resources, participation in decision making and functioning effectively as a leader.

The paper also tracks points of convergence or divergence between the two interventions, and finds that PRIs and SHGs have existing synergies.

About this Publication

By Deshmukh-Ranadive, J.