Self help groups (SHGs) can act as an empowerment resource centers for the women members, percolating the benefits to the society in general. Social evils like alcoholism, domestic violence against women and children, abuse and exploitation, gender bias and social exclusion are some of the areas against which the members can effectively organize and combat. Ultimately, it can come to a point where it becomes their choice whether to remain socially, economically and socially impoverished, or to organize themselves into eradicating their deprivations. The concept of self help groups was envisaged with the intent of using its potent as a powerful tool for rural poverty alleviation through rural women empowerment. It is to be specified that women empowerment per se was not the sole motive. The objectives percolated into an overall family, community and social development to be achieved initiated from and by women themselves. It is specifically against this setting that the present study was undertaken to critically evaluate the nature and extent of impact of participation in SHGs on rural women. Analysis was conducted on the extent of various levels of empowerment achieved by the members through their participation in SHGs. Personal, social, economic and financial empowerment were attempted to evaluate.
Key words: Women empowerment, self help groups, micro-credit, social security.
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