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Brown University

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

India: Health and Human Rights


India as a rising global superpower continues to be plagued by rampant poverty and gender inequality that has left it ranked 136th on the UNDP’s Human Development Index (UNDP). In its attempts to counter these trends, an assortment of development schemes have historically been employed to varying degrees of success. Recently, the grassroots model of the Self Help Group (SHG) has been widely adopted by government programs and NGOs alike as a community-based development model that can be especially utilized to address the status of women. SHGs are broadly defined as small informal associations formed so members can gain economic benefit from mutual help, solidarity, and joint responsibility (Anand 7). An SHG is typically made up of a homogenous group of 10-20 people who each contribute regular small amounts to a mutual fund, from which members can eventually take out loans at low interest rates with the group’s approval. The SHGs model is distinguished for promoting the empowerment of its members to make and act on their own expanded choices, as opposed to merely providing services to populations in need (Kilby 25). SHGs are often featured as components of “women’s empowerment” development schemes, with otherwise vulnerable or isolated women targeted for membership.


Community-Based Research | Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification



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