Women Empowerment: SHGs

August 24, 2010

Economic Empowerment of Women : SHGs

Economic Empowerment of Women in a developing country –more specifically in a disadvantaged area in a patriarchic society is a mere cry. However, breaking barrier to this needs Women’s collective wisdom & collective action. Then the question comes who are the agents to make this hard task in reality. There had been Government efforts including co-operative movement, welfare approaches at rural level but all those bodies failed to move an inch of empowerment among the Women. Now a days, the alternative approach is to empower women through small groups. With this philosophy the concept of SHGs was borne. SHGs( Self Help Groups) are small groups having members of equal status in terms of social & economic order. These groups are informal but supported by other institutions like banks, local governments . Attending groups in a regular way Women discuss various items, help each other and become confident in their social cum economic status. SHG-movement has stared in India. Despite its limitations ,there are a good number of SHGs functioning well . This writing is to highlight a case study where rural women showed positive results in terms of economic empowerment.

The followings are excerpts of a case study done by Satarupa Nandi –a post-graduate student of BCKV. Her objectives were to make an appraisal of SHGs on Economic empowerment of Rural Women in selected Regions of Sundarbans.

This study measured the impacts of small finance through SHGs in empowering resource poor women in terms of changes in income, employment, occupational pattern, asset accumulation & savings. .Additionally, the study oversees the impacts of SHGs in social frontier. The study saw positive impacts of micro-finance in a fragile area. Finally, the study ends with suggestions for intervention.
The block of Sandeshkhali-II was purposively. Thereafter, five villages falling under the jurisdiction of NAIP project of BCKVV were selected purposively. Sandeshkhali-II is one of poor blocks in West Bengal. More than 84% of the inhabitants are under below poverty line as per Government statistics. This block is also dominated by Scheduled castes and tribes (more than 50%). This block is disadvantaged one in terms of communication and other infrastructural facilities. In recent past this block witnessed havoc damage caused by AILA. Again, this block is prone to salinity. For a number of years a local based NGO, viz. YDC has been in operation to form SHGs in this areas. At the same time, Government, particularly local Panchayats have been in operation in promoting self help groups under SGSY scheme. Attempt has been to evaluate a number of SHGs referring to above objectives and to compare the role of SGSY & SHGs promoted by the NGO.

Group sampling:

10 groups at random were chosen from the existing 24 groups in the study area. Selected ten groups have ten members each-thus there are altogether 100 members from 50 units were taken at random. The following gives the village wise representation of sample members under study.

Table: 1 Table for sampling groups and group members
Name of the village Name of the Groups Number of members taken Provided by
Dhuchnikhali Pritilata 6 NGO (YDC)
Joy Gopalpur Srijani 5 GOVERNMENT
Manipur Jharna 8 GOVERNMENT
Tuskhali Sanghat 1 NGO (YDC)
Dhuchnikhali Mahamaya 6 NGO (YDC)
Dhuchnikhali Ananda Asram 4 NGO (YDC)
Tuskhali Prabhati 1 NGO (YDC)
Korakathi Puja 6 NGO (YDC)
Korakathi Milan Tirtha 9 NGO (YDC)
Korakathi Satata 4 NGO (YDC)

Methods of Analysis:
Relevant information was collected by PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) technique, personal interaction and focus-group interaction.

We have used simple tabular methods as best as possible for analytical purpose. Additionally, we used Likert scale to measure the ordinal data.
We also used Mann -Whitney U test to validate comparison between two categories or groups.

50 to 100 34 68
100 to 150 4 8
>150 6 12

 Impact of SHGs/ SGSYs on Employment

Another significant impact of SHGs has been evaluated in terms of increase in the number of days in employment. There has been major achievement to this point as could be read from the following table. About forty percent respondents have shown the change between 20 to 50%. One third of the sample units have increased man-days as high as 70% & more.

Table: 4 Increased Employment Days after joining SHGs

Percentage increased in Employment Days No. of respondents (n=50) Percentage to total Respondents
100 8 16

 Impact of SHG/SGSYs on Asset Accumulation

Sample respondents have manifested the impact of SHGs in terms of asset accumulation. More than one third respondents have made assets in the form of ornaments. Some of the members possessed durable assets like land. Others have owned houses for business by taking loans from SHGs. Many of the Women have had comfort-goods such as mobile-phones, radio, Televisions etc. The pattern of assets created after becoming members to SHGs is displayed in the following table. From the same table, we could see that SHGs have facilitated to reduce the burden of debts among the members. The extent of debt-mitigation across respondents is also well reflected in the Table.5
Table: 5 Impact of SHGs in terms of Asset Creation

Types of Assets Number of Respondent (n=50) Percentage to total Respondents

Ornaments 18 36
House 1 2
Land 3 6
Television 4 8
Mobile 5 10
Radio 3 6
Furniture 2 4
Tailoring Machines 1 2
Others 4 8
Debt Reduction 32 64

Maximum members have reported the extent of debt- reduction falling between Rs.5000 to Rs.10, 000.00. A sizeable portion of the sample members have reduced the debt-burden to the extent of more than Rs.20, 000.00

Table: 6 Debt Reduction Pattern among the Sample Members

Debt Reduction No. of respondents Percentage to total Respondents
2000 – 5000 7 14
5000 – 10000 18 36
10000 – 20000 6 12
20000 – 30000 4 8
30000 – 50000 2 4
>50000 2 4

 Impact of SHG/SGSYs on Expenditure Pattern

Impact of SHGs is indirectly evaluated in terms of comparison of expenditure pattern among the member-households between two reference periods-one before becoming member to a SHG and another after joining a SHG. This proxy-impact is shown in the following table.

Table: 7 Changes in Expenditure pattern

Monthly Expenditure(Rs.) Before joining SHGs After joining SHGs
Respondents Percentage Respondents Percentage

5000 1 1 3 6

` Increase capacity of income led to high level of expenditure among the SHG-households. Before joining SHGs average expenditure had been between the ranges of below thousand to Rs. 2000. The scenario changed significantly when they joined groups – More than fifty percent reported having a monthly expenditure pattern above Rs.2000.

Now coming to the part of empowerment among the members of SHGs we have noted the perceived judgments of the respondents on several heads of decision making process. Their expressions on items have been put in Likert scale. Response of respondents is summarized in the following table:

Table: 8 Value Judgment of the Respondents on Decision Making Process

Domain of Free-Decision Making Strongly agreed (+2) Agreed (+1) Neutral (0) Disagreed (-1) Strongly disagreed (-2)

Full control over enlarged income 33 5 8 2 2
Savings-decision in own account 30 16 0 4
Assets creation by own decision 32 12 1 3 2
Nutritional decision by own choice 36 12 2
Health care decision for going hospital 5 36 9
Expenditure decision by own choice 8 36 5 1

From Table: 8 it is found that most of the SHGs members have shown their independence, freedom and control over enlarged income, savings, asset creation, nutritional decision and health care. Out of 50 respondents 38 members got their freedom in managing their income. In other words, 76% of the sample members have been in a position to manage their income in their own choice. The same table also shows that 33 members have strongly agreed to the proposition that they have the full authority and full control over the increased income accrued to them after joining SHG forum. However 4 members have disagreed to the proposition. Again, two have strongly disagreed and expressed their helplessness in managing their own income. These two members also expressed domestic violence, particularly led by spouses and other male members and debarring their claim on their own income. This also indicates social disorder prevailing in the village.

Now we endeavor to compare and contrast the change in the behavior of the members belonging to SGSY and SHG.

The comparison is tested by Mann- Whitney U test. Results of this test are given below:

Table: 9 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity between SGSY & SHG in terms of Decision Making on Increased Income

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
SHG 37 1.4324 888.5 24.013
SGSY 13 1.9231 386.5 29.7308
ALL 50 1.5600 1275.0 25.50000

Mann- Whitney U 185.50000
E (U) 240.50000
V (U) 1138.69388
IZI 1.62989
P (>IZI) 0.10312

No significant difference in the decision making process between SHG and SGSY members in regard to control over enhanced income is found. This is undoubtedly a positive outcome of the two categories of groups in empowering their respective members.

From the table-8 similar results have been found in the process of decision making of rural women in terms of controlling savings. More them 90% of the sample members have referred to their independence in managing savings particularly, opening savings account in their own name without interference of their male counter parts.
We have also found that there is no difference in the mode of control in savings between SGSY and SHG members. Relevant results in above connection are shown in table:

Table: 10 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity in terms of Decision Making on Savings Between SHGs and SGSYs

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
SHG 37 1.3784 928.5 25.0946
SGSY 13 1.6154 346.5 26.6538
ALL 50 1.4400 1275.0 25.50000

Mann- Whitney U 225.50000
E (U) 240.50000
V (U) 1535.27347
IZI 0.38282
P (>IZI) 0.70185

Economic Empowerment of rural women could be seen through their decisive role in asset creation according to their own choice. More than 90% SHG members of the respondents have created own assets in their own way.
Mann- Whitney U test have shown no difference SGSY and SHG members in terms of taking decision on asset creation.

Table: 11 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity between SHGs and SGSYs
in terms of Decision Making on Asset Creation

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
SHG 37 1.3514 945.5 25.5541
SGSY 13 1.6154 329.5 25.3462
ALL 50 1.4200 1275.0 25.50000

Mann-Whitney U 238.50000
E (U) 240.50000
V (U) 1428.27551
IZI 0.05292
P (>IZI) 0.95780

Another important dimension of economic empowerment is translated in terms of their ability and decisive capacity for health care. SHG groups have empowered them to becoming mobile and as such SHG members frequently visit nearby hospital or, health care centre as a when require by them for their children.

Exposures of rural women to health care institution or, drug shops, physician have increased their self confidence in regard to health and hygiene. This sort of empowerment is being seen irrespective of categories of SHGs.

Finally SHG women groups have improved their status in terms of taking decision on family expenditure. However they need more to play in this respect. A comparison of empowerment between SGSY and SHG is shown in following table:

Table: 12 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity between SHGs and SGSYs
in terms of Decision Making in Family Expenditure

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
SHG 37 0.9730 943.5 25.5000
SGSY 13 1.0000 331.5 25.5000
ALL 50 0.9800 1275.0 25.5000

Mann- Whitney U 240.50000
E (U) 240.50000
V (U) 1575.02959
IZI 0.00000
P (>IZI) 1.00000

The Table: 8 shows positive outcome of SHG in terms of their increased decisive role in family expenditure. SHG members, more than 90% have expressed their active participation and sharing decision making role in family expenditure.

In foregoing discussion we have found positive impact of SHGs in terms of income-changes among the members irrespective of categories of groups. A common question is always raised referring to empowerment of women that education is the important criteria governing the empowerment capacity of women. Thus, importance of groups, particularly of SHG/SGSYs is given low grade bearing little influence upon the decision making process of rural women. In the following table we have tested the null hypothesis that there is no difference between the literate and illiterate members in terms of decision making with regard to enhanced income as members receive after joining groups. The table clearly indicates that there is no evidence to show difference statistically. Thus the notion on empowerment depending solely on education level is violated. Informal groups, such as SHG/SGSYs play much role in empowering their members. Group activity facilitates confidence as well as self respect among the members, if properly monitored and governed.

Table: 13 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity between SHGs and SGSYs
in terms of Decision Making in Increased Income

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
literate 25 1.77 959.5 27.41
illiterate 15 1.0667 315.5 21.03
ALL 50 1.56 1275.0 25.5000

Mann- Whitney U 195.5000
E (U) 262.5000
V (U) 1242.85
IZI 1.9004
P (>IZI) 0.05737

Another myth is related regarding age and empowerment. It is normally held that less aged women are less empowered in executing decision comparative to aged or older women. This notion has been found untenable in our sample study as shown in Table: 14 High value of IZI indicates no difference between young and aged members in terms of decision making over income.
Table: 14 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity between SHGs and SGSYs
in terms of Decision Making in increased Income between Older and Younger Group Members

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
40 yrs 17 1.76 443.5 26.09
ALL 50 1.56 1275.0 25.5000

Mann- Whitney U 270.5000
E (U) 280.5000
V (U) 1328.08
IZI 0.2700
P (>IZI) 0.7837

This study also did not observe difference in empowerment capacity in terms of control over income between older and new groups. Results of this are shown in Table: 14
Table: 14 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity between SHGs and SGSYs
in terms of Decision Making in increased income between Old and New Groups

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
Old 26 1.8077 704.0 27.0769
New 24 1.2917 571.5 23.7917
ALL 50 1.5600 1275.0 25.5000

Mann- Whitney U 271.00
E (U) 312.00
V (U) 1477.22
IZI 1.06674
P (>IZI) 0.2861

Another common notion that illiterate member are inferior to literate members in terms of assets-creation or taking decision for accumulating assets in their own choice has been nullified from the statistical test as given in the Table:14

Table: 14 Mann-Whitney U tests to Homogeneity
In terms of Decision Making in Asset Creation between Literate and Illiterate Members

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
Literate 35 1.4300 852.5 24.36
Illiterate 15 1.4000 422.5 28.16
ALL 50 1.4200 1275.0 25.5000

Mann- Whitney U 222.5
E (U) 262.5
V (U) 1558.93
IZI 1.0100
P (>IZI) 0.3100

Likewise, this study did not find significant difference between the young and aged classes in the decision making process of asset creation. Similarly, this study found similar behavior to above process between old and new groups.

Informal SHG/SGSY groups have tremendous effects on the thrift habit of members irrespective of their literacy level and age. At the same time thrift habits have been found alike between the old and new groups. Estimates of the results are shown in the following tables.

Table: 17 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity in terms of Decision Making in Savings between literate and Illiterate members

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
literate 35 1.4857 864.5 24.70
illiterate 15 1.3333 410.5 24.3667
ALL 50 1.4400 1275.0 25.5000

Mann- Whitney U 234.5
E (U) 262.50
V (U) 1675.71
IZI .6840
P (>IZI) .49397

Table: 18 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity in terms of Decision Making in Savings between Old and New Groups

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
old 26 1.5769 670 25.77
new 24 1.2917 605 25.20
ALL 50 1.4400 1275.0 25.5000

Mann- Whitney U 305
E (U) 312.0
V (U) 1991.71
IZI .15685
P (>IZI) .87536

Table: 19 Mann-Whitney U test to Homogeneity in terms of Decision Making in Savings between Older and Young Group Members

Likert Scale
Category Value Example Average Rank Sum Rank Mean
40 18 1.113 415 23.05
ALL 50 1.4400 1275.0 25.5000

Mann- Whitney U 244
E (U) 288
V (U) 1838.49
IZI 1.026
P (>IZI) .3048

From foregoing discussion this study has shown positive role of Self Help Group institution in empowering rural women in multi dimension. SHG have increased their decision making role in terms of income generation, accumulation of savings, asset creation and sharing and shouldering responsibly and family affairs. All these empowerment clearly indicates the SHG members feel their self respect and self confidence. Again this study has formed positive outcomes of SHGs irrespective of the category of group- either in the form of SGSY, promoted by Panchayet or, Government or, promoted by local NGOs. Our study has shown that SHGs have increased both capacity and affinity of rural women in a disadvantage area.

Similarly this study also finds no difference between the literate and illiterate members in terms of decision making with regard to enhanced income as members receive after joining groups. This study also did not observe difference in empowerment capacity in terms of control over income between older and new group members. Likewise, this study did not find significant difference between the young and aged classes in the decision making process of asset creation. Similarly, this study found similar behavior to above process between old and new groups.

POLICY MEASURES

Some Policy measures from this exercise are:

 SHGs have the in-built capacity to empower rural women if properly monitored & guided.

 There is scope for covering more number of women in the villages. Intervention of extension activities from of local governments, local NGOs, NABARD, Village Co-Operative and other rural bodies is needed. About 50% of rural women in the sample areas have been beyond outreach of SHG-concept.

 Need for Rural entrepreneurship training among the members is felt. Rural women are concerned with crop- & livestock activities. Agro-processing units based on local products could be set up there and for this SHG members need institutional as well as infrastructure facilities.

 Basic education among the members has been minimum. For this intervention from other rural bodies is required to make SHG members more self-confidence.

 Members need to be encouraged to create productive assets.