(Sample Material of Public Administration Study Kit: Development Dynamics: Women and development - the self-help group movement

Sample Material of Public Administration Study Kit (Paper - I)

Chapter VIII - Development Dynamics: Women and development - the self-help group movement

Women And Development–The Self-Help Group Movement

Why is Focus upon Women?

(a) Women are Most Affected and Marginalized in Society
(b) Women are overworked.
(c) Women are underfed.
(d) Women hardly control any assets or income.
(e) Women are socially discriminated.
(f) Women are excluded from public sphere.
(g) Women are more worried about the health and education of their families.

Self-Help and the Group Model for Women

Alternative development thinkers emphasise participation, self-reliance and self-help as basic human rights. Development involves changes in the awareness, motivation and behaviour of individuals, in the relations between individuals as well as between groups within a society. These changes can come from within individuals and group through self-help, and not necessarily from outside. The experiences of self-reliance have led to attempts to build local level organisation like, cooperatives, credit societies, neighborhood or community development associations, water sharing associations or women’s groups. The Neo-liberal paradigm has also incorporated self-reliance as a strategy for building people’s entrepreneurial spirits and absorption into the capital market.

The SHGs in India are small, informal and homogenous groups of not more than twenty members each. The groups are kept informal to minimize their association with bureaucracy and corruption, unnecessary administrative expenditure and profit constraints.

The size of twenty is devised, as any group larger than that would need to be registered under the Indian legal system and that brings a whole range of regulatory constraints. After a group is formed, it starts collecting a fixed amount from each member for about six months. During this period, the groups are expected to open a savings account with a financial institution which would like to extend credit.

After accumulating a reasonable amount of resources, the group starts lending to its members. As the group members develop the experience of handling resources, understand the value of credit and the importance of repayment and accountability to the group, it can approach the financial institution for term loans. The group becomes jointly liable to the bank for repayment and it is expected to assume responsibility in monitoring the members. This joint liability provides incentives or compels the group to undertake the burden of selection, monitoring and enforcement that would otherwise fall on the lender.


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