A STUDY ON “ROLE OF SELF HELP GROUP’S IN WOMAN EMPOWERMENT”

(A special reference to STEP project dairy co-op societies which is farmed with women SHG in Vellore and Tiruvannamalai Districts)

By NALLA VIVEKANAND PhD in Psychology Dravidian University KUPPAM-AP

ABSTRACT

The self help group replica which became popular in India, and gathered an enormous response, in rural woman empowerment through various project initiatives of the government agencies, which are appreciate and recognized. The impact of self help groups in many districts which provide an employment and facilitate them to run their day to day life. Dairy cooperatives have provided fillip to the rural women their deserving share. SHGs can enhance the equality of rural women status as participants, decision-makers and beneficiaries in the democratic, economic, social and cultural spheres of life.

Key word: SHG, economic, social, political, social, psychological, legal, health and community

Introduction:

Self help group is a model which is giving an opportunity for women more empowerment, in terms of well being and economic independence through self employment and entrepreneurial development. Economic independence makes the woman more confident, increases the self esteem. Rural India woman is facing Poverty and unemployment is the major problems. In India at the end of ninth five year span 26.1% of the population was living below poverty line.  In the rural area 27.1% of the population was living under poverty.  The overall unemployment rate is estimated to 7.32%.  The female unemployment rate is 8.5%.  The rate of growth of women unemployment in the rural area is 9.8%.  This is because of the low growth rate of new and productive employment.  Government is implemented various schemes to reduce poverty and to promote the gainful employment.  But the more attractive scheme with less effort (finance) is “Self Help Group”.  It is a best tool to remove poverty and improve the rural woman life through dairy farming.

Since history to today the rural woman life from womb to until the death, they are facing grave consequences; it starts from the stage of pregnancy, baby, adulthood, puberty, young age, and in older age. Woman live with series of hurdles; starts from pregnancy sex selection, foeticide, forceful treatment at the time of delivery, coerce pregnancy, child abuse, mental, bodily pressures, difference in diet and health safety, Physical slit incest, sexual harassment, disparity in diet, health, study, teenage trafficking, family femininity inequity, love and affection cheating, thriftily forced sex, sexual abuse, harassment, rape, enforced prostitution, exploitation of women by close associates, marital rape, dowry violence and murders, spouse murder, psychological, sexual abuse at the office, work area, Physical disable girls suffered from cruelty, harassment, exploitation of widows, and older abuse. Still, rural woman’s face struggles alone without the support of family, community and all.

As per the Indian rural woman social-distress background sorrows, it is evidence that their dependence, desperation, unfair in gender, social and psychological suffering. These all go to be converted into post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders, depression, sociopaths, and other mental illnesses. After that it may be reflected in many other problems, like social problems, aggressive behavior aligned with women, moribund teenager gender ratio, anticipation of teen wedding, Woman trafficking, physical condition, hygiene, intake Water, Sex ratio budget, associates cruelty, violence, brutality, family fall down, then the individual will enter into lack of food, poverty, cruelty, work too hard, sexual, reproductive nastiness, family, society will face, national conflict and severe trauma situation.

            Apart from this rural woman is faced with different challenges and hurdles, like personal, family, supervision, corresponding work and obstacles, woman’s isolation into lower-paid work, the disparity of pay between men & women, the feminization of poor quality of life, and added brutality against women. The above said all unfair practices from all sides putting the woman under psychological depression, so she is unable to move towards personal development. If it cannot avoid conflict, harmony situations, the above said hurdles need to be understood at a deep level of rural woman’s ability to adopt. Accessible approach and mechanism need for success in this order.

SHG’s philosophy:

A SHG is a small economically homogeneous affinity group of the rural poor voluntarily coming together to save small amount regularly, which are deposited in a common fund to meet members emergency needs and to provide collateral free loans decided by the group.  (Abhas Kumar Jha 2000).  They have been recognized as useful tool to help the poor and as an alternative mechanism to meet the urgent credit needs of poor through thrift (V. M. Rao 2002) SHG is a media for the development of saving habit among the women (S. Rajamohan 2003).

Empowering Women through women’s cooperative societies:

Cooperation is human instinct and crucial from the civilization. To take cooperation from fellow members is the need of an individual and consequently to offer cooperation is quid pro quo, cooperation is recurring cyclical informal practice society is doing since ages. Cooperatives have empowered women through its economic activities. Generally politically & socially sidelined women are factually full time engaged in farm & dairy activities. Rural woman Empowerment cannot be possible with enthusiasm and, confidence of woman, which can built up by SHGs, when women can fight against injustice and unsecure rights and help to self-empower themselves.

 Community chattels of Dairy Co-operatives:

(Jayachandra & Naidu, 2006) have studied the impact of dairy co-operatives on income, employment and creation of assets of marginal and small farmers in Rangampet milk producer co-operative society (Chittor DT, Andhra Pradesh). The study had identified significant increase in income, among marginal and small farmers after joining the dairy farming through the co-operative society. Farmers have been able to get new (full-time and part time) employment opportunities through dairying. The values of their assets have also increased after engaging in dairy activity. The findings of the study has indicated that dairying offers a vast scope for increasing the income, employment opportunities, and assets value of marginal and small farmers whose marginal and average productivity is low and dairying could be identified as an appropriate and beneficial occupation to increase the purchasing power of rural farmers.

Indian Rural woman traditionally associate with agriculture and dairying, nearly 70 % households keep animals a part of regular income, which take care by the woman, Dairy production is an important income source of an integral part of crop live stock production.

The dairy industry is one of the best suitable tool for explore millions of rural women, who can be brought into the mainstream of dairy development, with access to training and employment at the household level. And their economic well-being and self esteem empowerment.  The women’s need to access training in modern dairying and cooperative management system is essential.

            The employment of women is an index of their economic and social status in society. In India, women constitute 90 per cent of marginal workers, with some regional variations.

  • Dairying at the household level is largely the domain of women
  • The products and income from dairying can be controlled by women
  • Dairying can be practiced on a small scale.

Review of research literature:

            A research review of the literature has given insights on various aspects of the role of self help groups on women empowerment. Even though the concept of women empowerment through women self help groups is relatively new, the academic community has shown substantial interest by exploring the extent to which such groups facilitate women empowerment. However, the concept of empowerment with its varied definitions processes and outcome does not have a systematic procedure to be measurable. There have been a number of attempts to conceptualize empowerment and various authors have proposed different frameworks. The domains by which empowerment can be measured has of late gained some unanimity; however, is not exhaustive and different frameworks propose additional domain which perhaps might then include new avenues.

            The field of women empowerment in modern societies has gained critical significance even more so in developing nations of the world. There have been systematic efforts from various agencies and governments of the world to empower women, however whether such efforts contain be victorious in bringing about a significant alter inside the plight of women across the world cannot be objectively assessed for lack of clarity of domains as well as a systematic process of measurement.

            Thus, empowerment of women is not a one-way process; empowerment involves women are being empowered and where women empower others. Women by being agents of change-to-change in their own plight have great significance; it’s not only for women but also for societies as a whole and future generation. Economic and Social empowerment have been widely studied and been reported. The role of psychological domain gains much significance as it has a property to influence all other domains as well as affects the comfort and excellence of existence of individual women.

 Objectives of the study

  1. To assess the extent to which psychological factors such as self-efficacy, self-esteem and general well-being has improved among women self help group members after joining the self help group.
  2. To determine whether membership in self help groups facilitate improvements in key discriminating psychosocial factors such as self-efficacy, self-esteem and general well-being in comparison to the non-members.
  • To determine whether membership in self help groups facilitate improvements in various facets of empowerment by comparing self help group member with non members

Need for the Study:

“Educate a man and you educate an individual; educate a woman and she educate a family ’.

            Women by being agents of change-to-change their own plight have great significance not only for women themselves but also for societies as a whole and future generation. Economic and Social empowerment have been widely studied and been reported. The role of psychological domain gains much significance, as it has a property to influence all other domains as well as effects, the individual well-being, and quality of women.

 Study significance:

            Thus, empowerment of women is not a one way process; empowerment involves women getting empowered and where women empower others. Women by being agents of change to change their own plight has great significance not only for women themselves but for societies as a whole and future generation. Economic and Social empowerment has been widely studied and been reported. The role of psychological domain gains much significance as it has a property to influence all other domains as well as affects the well-being and quality of life of individual women.

            This study therefore intends to assess the level of change brought about in various domains of empowerment by joining self help groups. Additionally, it purposively investigates the level of change self help groups were able to influence on certain key psychological factors related to the self.

 

Methodology: As this paper seeks to explore how SHG’s are relatively works in co-op societies.

Method of study:

The present study has covered the villages from north districts of Tamil Nadu Viz., Vellore District, and Tiruvannamalai District,  These 20 villages were selected for these study, because of the SHGs are converted in to Dairy co-operative societies as functioning for  milk producers society with successful manner.

            The review of the literature on various perspectives on Empowerment, Self-Esteem, Self-Efficacy and General Well-being and provided valuable insights on the role of different self-help groups in empowering, its members especially women with regard to the variables under study. Based on the review of the literature, several hypotheses were formulated and the research, the redesign was finalized to meet the key objectives of the study

Hypotheses:

            Based on the review of the literature, the following hypotheses were formulated.

Formulated Hypotheses

·        There will be a significant improvement in Self-Esteem among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in Self-Efficacy among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in General Well-Being, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in indicators of Empowerment, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in Education, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in Social Awareness, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in Political Participation, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls..
·        There will be a significant improvement in Psychological Strength, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in Legal Knowledge, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in Health Knowledge, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in Economic Status, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls.
·        There will be a significant improvement in Community Service, among SHG members after joining the SHG in comparison to normal controls

Research Design:

            This study followed a Non-equivalent Control Group (NECG) design to evaluate the function of Self-Help Groups in facilitating change in key psychological factors among its members. In a quasi-experimental design, the causal variable of interest is not manipulated, but rather is an event that occurred for other reasons. In an NECG design, study subjects in both the groups need not be similar to the dependent variable and can be non-equivalent. Moreover, randomly assigned to the control group and experimental group is usually absent. Both the groups are, however, matches on factors that might influence the dependent variable in addition to the quasi-experimental variable. In an NECG design both experiment and control groups are measured before and after treatment or an event.

 Sampling Design:

Targeting women, self help group members working in dairy cooperative societies. With a purpose to identify the extent to which membership and working in such self help groups facilitate improvements in their self-esteem, self-efficacy, general well-being and domains of empowerment an experimental group of 70 women SHG members were compared with a group of 70 NonSHG members across two points of time.

To assess the empowerment domains such as education, social awareness, political participation, psychological strength, legal knowledge, health knowledge, economic improvement and community services.

Operational Definitions:

  1. Self Help Group usually consists of a few individuals usually less than 20 members with a relatively homogenous factor such as economic status or job status. A self help group is formed based on accessible affinities in addition to common belief wherein WSHGs assemble frequently on a preset occasion in addition to position and work towards a predetermined goal. This study further selected registered self help groups that were a part of women dairy cooperative society.

Statistical Techniques:

It was intended to examine the improvements in the level of psychological factors under investigation after five years of joining an SHG and compare it with on-SHG members.

TABLE-1: The following table presents, the demographic characteristics of women self help group members and matched controls.

Demographic / Group Category Count Percentage
Age  
Self-help Group Below  30 years 19 27.14
31-40 18 25.71
Above 40 33 47.14
   
Control Group Below  30 years 20 28.57
31-40 20 28.57
Above 40 30 42.86
Marital Status  
Self-help Group Married 66 94.29
Single 4 5.71
   
Control Group Married 68 97.14
Single 2 2.86
Education  
Self-help Group Illiterate 19 27.14
Literate 51 72.85
   
Control Group Illiterate 20 28.57
Literate 50 71.43
Family Type  
Self-help Group Joint 21 30.00
Nuclear 49 70.00
   
Control Group Joint 15 21.43
Nuclear 55 78.57
Community  
Self-help Group SC 20 28.57
ST 12 17.14
BC and Others 38 54.29
   
Control Group SC 16 22.86
ST 8 11.43
BC and Others 46 65.71

TABLE-2: Descriptive Statistics for the Two Groups on Self-Esteem, Self-Efficacy and General Well-Being

Variable / Group N Mean

SD

Self-esteem
Self-help Group 70 17.49

2.84

Control Group 70 18.64

2.46

Self-efficacy
Self-Help Group 70 24.96

2.95

Control Group 70 25.34

2.04

General Well-Being
Self-help Group 70 8.01

.94

Control Group 70 7.79

1.04

Time 1

Measure

1.       Self Efficacy

2.       Self-Esteem

3.       General Well-Being                

Women not in SHG

(Control Group)

Women in SHG

(Experimental Group)

Women in SHG

(Experimental Group)

 

Women not in SHG

(Control Group)

Assess Change
Assess Change

Therefore, no such change was observed in well-being levels, which indicate that actual change in emotions and

behavior was not observed. It might be then fair to infer that it might take the time to translate perceptions to action.

TABLE-3: Comparison of the SHG and Control Group on Education:

Group Education Improved Total
No Yes
Self-Help Group Count 5 65 70
% within Group 7.1% 92.9% 100.0%
Control Group Count 63 7 70
% within Group           90.0% 10.0% 100.0%

The number of women who felt their education status has improved was significantly greater in the SHG than the control group. Members of the SHG would have improved on their level of education from Time to Time 2 or after joining the SHG at the least by attaining literacy status.

TABLE-4: Comparison of the SHG and Control Group on Social status:

Group   Social Status Improved Total
No Yes
Self-help Group Count 16 54 70
% within Group 22.9% 77.1% 100.0%
Control Group Count 52 18 70
% within Group 74.3% 25.7% 100.0%

The members perceived their social status improved in comparison to those who had not joined a self help group. Access to credit, increased social interaction, better revenue, employment opportunities, better savings habit and better status in the family would have contributed to the improvements in social status.

TABLE-5: Comparison of the SHG and Control Group on Political Participation

 

Group   Political Participation Improved  

Total

No Yes
 

Self-help Group

 

 

Count

 

45

 

25

 

70

% within Group 64.3% 35.7% 100.0%
Control Group Count 51 19 70
% within Group 72.9% 27.1% 100.0%

The number of women who felt their political participation has improved was similar in both the SHG and the control group. Women SHG members might not have gained any political roles, even at the local body levels nor any specific leadership roles. This might require more time and sufficient social backing to play a significant political role.

TABLE-6: Comparison of the SHG and Control Group on Psychological Strength

Group   Psychological Strength Improved Total
No Yes
Self-help Group Count 27 43 70
% within Group 38.6% 61.4% 100.0%
Control Group Count 47 23 70
% within Group 67.1% 32.9% 100.0%

The number of women who felt their psychological strength has improved was significantly greater in the SHG than the control group. The improvements in Psychological Strength might be due to the improvements in employability skill, better social interaction, the ability to save, feelings of confidence, better status, and acceptance in family and community.

TABLE-7: Comparison of the SHG and Control Group on Legal Knowledge

Group   Legal Knowledge Improved Total
No Yes
Self-help Group Count 34 36 70
% within Group 48.6% 51.4% 100.0%
Control Group Count 52 18 70
% within Group 74.3% 25.7% 100.0%

The number of woman who felt their  legal knowledge has improved was significantly greater in the SHG than the control group. It might be because NGOs provide frequent training with regard to various legal acts to SHG members. Moreover, training and better social interaction would have facilitated knowledge about various legislations and acts such as dowry domestic violence, women’s rights, child marriage, etc.

TABLE-8: Comparison of the SHG and Control Group on Health Knowledge

Group        Health Knowledge Improved Total
No Yes
Self-help Group Count 25 45 70
% within Group 35.7% 64.3% 100.0%
Control Group Count 52 18 70
% within Group 74.3% 25.7% 100.0%

The number of women who felt their health knowledge has improved was significantly greater in the SHG than the control group. Frequent interactions with other members of the community, access to health services through SHGs, training and education on health related matters would have enabled SHG members to perceive that they have improved with regard to Health Knowledge.

TABLE-9: Comparison of the SHG and Control Group for Community Service

Group   Community Service, Improved Total
No Yes
Self-Help Group Count 18 52 70
% within Group 25.7% 74.3% 100.0%
Control Group Count 50 20 70
% within Group 71.4% 28.6% 100.0%

The number of women who felt their community service has improved was significantly greater in the SHG than the control group. SHGs facilitate participation in community services such as rural sanitization, alcohol prohibition, watershed projects and, protesting and acting against child labor. Moreover, engaging in such activities significantly improve SHG member acceptance in the community and society.

TABLE-10 Comparison of the SHG and Control Group on Economic Status

Group Economic Status Improved Total
No Yes
Self-help Group Count 9 61 70
% within Group 12.9% 87.1% 100.0%
Control Group Count 54 16 70
% within Group 77.1% 22.9% 100.0%

The number of women who felt their economic status has improved was significantly greater in the SHG than the control group. SHGs provide access to micro credit either from their own credit pool or by acting as a go in between members and banks. It would have also facilitated more employment opportunities among its members, improved the employability skills of the members. It would have also contributed to members developing the habit of savings. All of these would have those enabled SHG members to feel that they have improved economically after joining the SHG.

Conclusion:

It is found that the income of the women has been increased after joining in the SHGs, as well as after joining in dairy society, and gained good knowledge money management. Considerable improvement is found in dairy activities, capacity building and other skill development activates through training. In similarly that the monthly household expenditure also has been raised in considerable level.  But the savings is increasing at slow rate, because the incremental expenditure is higher.  Mostly they are spending for present consumption needs.  Since the repayment of loan is regular, and within the time frame, that the economic activities of SHGs are quite success.  In this way SHGs in north Tamil Nadu are very successful to develop women empowerment and rural areas.

That the self help groups played a significant role, in improving educational status, social status, psychological strength, legal knowledge, health knowledge, community service and economic status domains of empowerment. This finding was a result of the comparison of the self help group members’ perception of empowerment with the matched control group members’ perception of empowerment at a Time. In any rural woman empowerment schemes, woman needs more involvement with awareness of their rights and opportunities.

On the whole of this study confirms that women’s status is inferior to men. Women face discrimination within families as well as in society, where society maintains double standards in the case of education, marriage, spousal relationships, domestic violence, laws of patriarchal society, property laws, dowry system, sexual morality, sexual harassment as well as discriminatory social stigma and also less recognition and respect for women’s work.

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