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Empowerment of rural women through self-help groups is viable
Empowerment has become a common catch phrase in the development projects including that of women development. The strategy of self-help groups in micro-finance sector is a glaring example of women empowerment through collectivization, control of money and acquisition of decision making power.

There exist quite a few success stories in women empowerment though self-help groups in India now and the strategy needs to be promoted.

Empowerment, in the development circles, is often defined as a process that shifts social power in three critical ways: by challenging the ideologies that justify social inequality such as gender or caste; changing prevailing patterns of access to and control over economic, natural and intellectual resources, and  transforming the institutions and structures that reinforce and sustain existing power structures like the family.

Women's groups and grassroots women's collectives have been formed under various projects and began to address their unequal access to economic and natural resources, to education, health services, to reproductive health and rights, and change the gender division of labour and access to training, technical skills, and employment.

Micro-credit programs successfully shifted productive resources into poor women's hands and they, in turn, were demonstrating how their enhanced incomes were applied to raise household nutrition levels, improve the health and education status of their children, state, market, education, media, etc.

"Self-help women's groups" (SHGs) which were meant to simulate the empowering nature of the collectives or sanghas and samoohas under various projects, but in reality engage in little else but savings and lending, and reservations for women within local self-government bodies which is deemed to lead to political empowerment.

 Both micro-credits and self-help groups are described as "women's empowerment" approaches, though there is little evidence that either result in sustained changes in women's position or condition within their families, communities, or society at large since the strategy has not been universalized in India.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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