Breakthroughs in Women’s Empowerment: Decision-making Power of Women in Microfinance and Financial Self-help Groups in Jharkhand and West Bengal
This research brief presents results from a series of “Health Diaries” - or frequent surveyor-administered surveys - conducted with 45 women in West Bengal and Jharkhand, India to uncover how low-income women prepare for, cover, and recover from health costs. The brief focuses specifically on household decision-making behaviors and gender dynamics within the household.
The latest national survey shows that, in some areas of their lives, women's empowerment in India is improving, albeit slowly. The Health Diaries highlight the overall low decision-making power that women have. Given women's control over food decisions, this is an opportunity to build on current strengths. Research should also be conducted to understand the dynamics around borrowing. While women's access to credit is often used as an indicator of women's empowerment, it appears it can also be a potential risk factor if her husband feels disempowered by his lack of access to financial services - especially if she has no control over the use of the credit as well as no income or control over savings and other assets.