Health Care and Women's Empowerment: The role of Self Help Groups

S Chakravarty, A N Jha


Over the last couple of decades the concept of Self Help Groups (SHGs) and its potential as an effective tool to alleviate poverty and empower women has garnered considerable interest worldwide. Considering the importance given by policy makers across various nations to the group approach while conceptualizing, formulating and implementing any scheme or programme for the welfare of marginalized and underprivileged sections of the society (especially women), we identified the need to critically examine and explore the role of SHGs in the empowerment of women with a special emphasis on health status.

To date, the functioning of SHGs has essentially been viewed only from an economic perspective. The existing approach puts encourages the economic development of women, with SHGs a mechanism to achieving this. However, how these economic benefits are being translated into the change in women’s status, particularly their health status, remains unexplored and ultimately unaddressed.

This working research paper attempts to review the scope and limitations of SHGs in improving women’s health and empowerment based upon empirical work undertaken in the Jharkhand state of India. Our paper also explores the extent to which SHGs can be involved in attaining better health status for women, and thereby point the way for further research.




Women’s empowerment, health care, SHGs, socio-economic status, poverty alleviation, India.

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