NABARD - Status of Microfinance in India 2016-17 - page 62

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While financial intermediation and promoting savings among SHG women is
seen as an entry point, the major purpose is expected to be gender equality and
empowerment. Ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls
everywhere, eliminating violence against women, ensuring full and effective
participation and equal opportunities for leadership, etc., being targets under SDG
5 for achieving gender equality and “empower all women” can be better fulfilled
through the medium of SHGs. As several studies brought out, members of SHGs
expressed better role in decision making at home and community, higher level of
confidence in facing outside people and situations, ability to raise voice on violence
against self and fellow members and ensuring children’s education compared to
non-members. Studies have established that SHG movement has enabled the
women to get the social identity and leadership in decision-making and take a
stand on the issues related to family as well as society. SHGs have battled against
social evils like dowry, sale of liquor in villages, exploitation against women, etc.
They have also put forth their demands before the appropriate authorities for road
connectivity to villages, electricity, health and sanitation facilities, provision of
drinking water, etc. SHGs were also seen fighting for the rights of not only the
members and their families but also women in general, common interests of the
settlements, etc.
While SHGs and microfinance can overall contribute to several other SDGs in some
form or the other, in fulfilling certain targets their role cannot be overemphasized.
For instance, target to achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per
cent population by 2030 under SDG 10 i.e. to reduce inequality, can be reached
only by ensuring access to resources especially financial to the bottom deciles of
population who are caught in vicious cycle of low capital – low income – poverty
continuum. Such segments cannot be made to improve incomes by merely providing
assets or capital. They need aspiration to grow, skills and entrepreneurship to grab
opportunities, the will and confidence to sustain beyond handholding period.
Also, they may need several rounds of support, not just one dose. Membership in
SHGs helped in graduating to entrepreneurship. About 28 per cent of the members
could think in terms of becoming micro-entrepreneurs
. The graduation index, as
measured in a study
, was about 0.45 of which micro-enterprise dimension index
was 0.57. To help SHG members graduate to micro-entrepreneurs, we need to
work on credit- frequency and amount; savings- products that suits SHG members
and incentivise them to save additionally; creative mechanisms for sharing loans
by members; micro-infrastructure that can render small investments viable and
fructuous; and, convergence across programmes and processes that dissipates less
of energy, resources and efforts.
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