Self-help Groups (SHGs) is a group of 10-20 members who work independently in order to become self-sufficient. The role of self help groups in community development found its roots in Grameen Bank model, Bangladesh (1970s) and since then the whole concept of SHGs is working in making women more productive in work front at power with men. These SHG are even called by Swayam Sahita Samuh.
Such Self Help Groups have various methods under which it works. For example: inter loaning among members, rules made by the members for proper functioning of the group, proper book keeping of credit and debit etc. Members make small regular savings contributions for few months for the group they are part of until enough capital is stored for the group to begin lending. The most significant feature of such groups is ‘linkage’ with the banks for delivery of micro-credit. In laymen language, micro-credit refers to small loans given by the group members to one another at bad times and to meet credit needs.
They may be registered or unregistered. It is basically a homogeneous group where members belonging to same backgrounds and interests come together for achieving the sole interest of empowerment and saving little sum of money to meet the emergency needs. They pool their resources to become financially stable, taking loans from their groups and make everybody in that group self-employed. There is strong procedure for repayment among group members.
This move of forming and promoting Self Help Groups has reduced the gender inequalities prevailing in country. With the central and state Governments, NABARD is extending support for women SHGs as a strategy for women empowerment. Important policy initiatives has been taken in this regard that includes- promotion of groups under Development of Women and Children in rural Areas(DWACRA), South Asian Poverty Alleviation programme(SAPAP) assisted by UNDP under Dhaka declaration.
The SHGs by providing access to financial services and informing the women members about the numerous welfare programmes is truly empowering by involving women in several activities and also making them understand about the market workings. This way it is addressing the gender issues of economic development in India in best way possible. The women involved have learned to manage money and use it in worst situations. Hence, financial empowerment is taking place where women are more aware of financial knowledge and are seen as women entrepreneurs. Thus, the concept of SHGs is being promoted by government and presently, also among rural women. The status of power and position that was lacking for women since independence have now been covered up and this was possible only with the initiation of the concept self-help groups.