Economic Self-Help Group Programmes for Improving Women’s Empowerment

A Systematic Review

Speaker: Thomas de Hoop, senior researcher for American Institutes for Research
Discussant:
Meghna Ranganathan, LSHTM
Date
:
22 October 2015, 17:15-18:45
Venue:
LIDC, Upper Meeting Room

This mixed-methods systematic review focuses on the impact of women’s self-help groups (SHGs) on women’s economic, social, psychological, and political empowerment. SHGs are the most popular development intervention to stimulate women’s empowerment in South Asia.

Both governmental and non-governmental institutions spend formidable resources facilitating these savings and credit groups, under the premise that access to microfinance, training, and group support can enhance women’s empowerment. We found that women’s economic SHGs have positive effects on various dimensions of women’s empowerment, including economic, social and political empowerment. We did not find evidence for positive effects of SHGs on psychological empowerment.

The synthesis of the women’s experiences reported in the qualitative research further suggests that the positive effects of SHGs on economic, social, and political empowerment run through the channels of familiarity with handling money and independence in financial decision making, solidarity, improved social networks, and respect from the household and other community members. Our integration of the quantitative and qualitative evidence indicates that SHGs do not have adverse consequences for domestic violence.

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