The SHG movement worldwide aimed at systematically empowering marginalized grass root level women, by way of conscientization, income generation and capacity building. The resent article examines vying evidence as to whether the SHG movement really did enhanced development among the coastal women. Data had been collected from the SHGs in the coastal areas of Kerala. On one hand, the conscious group mobilization, thrift collection, serendipitous exposure to diverse, novel experiences, and the frequent discourses culminating in consensual decision-making, all enhanced the coastal women’s ability to articulate and gain a higher status in the family as well as in their locality village. On the other hand, consumption of loans by the poor members did not substantially contribute to improve their productive capacities; neither did micro-credit attract the poorest and the needy. The study also evidences that such initiatives eventually led to another form of domination over women, through the development of new hierarchies of power, which further created hurdles and enslaving them financially on their spouses. The authors are forced to concede that evidence with respect to the impact of SHGs on women’s status and well-being is mixed.
Key words: SHGs, coastal women, empowerment, development.
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