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    Understanding Empowerment through perceptions of Self-Help Group Women in Odisha

    Mishra, Nita (2019) Understanding Empowerment through perceptions of Self-Help Group Women in Odisha. Research and Perspectives on Development Practice (23). ISSN 2009-6976

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    Odisha, the state government and non-government organisations, support and create self-help groups (SHGs) through incentives to engage in income-generating projects as a method to enable and empower vulnerable women. While the creation of SHGs is evidence of political will and commitment of the state towards facilitating women’s empowerment processes, this paper shows that the continuation and success of SHGs largely depends on women’s understanding of empowerment. This paper examines processes of empowerment through an investigation of its practice, and emerging meanings, by women in self-help groups in Odisha State, India. The significant contribution of this paper is the analysis of notions of empowerment using voices of women actively engaged in processes of reclaiming agency and building capabilities on a daily basis. The narratives were collected from members of 46 self-help womens’ groups of on their lived experiences of forming and joining SHGs through open-ended interviews and group discussions. Three important aspects of empowerment are highlighted by the women. One is reclaiming agency and building capabilities. A second highlights empowerment as a process of awareness which women deliberated upon in group discussions. Describing empowerment as a process of sachetna (awareness), women insisted that one must know the rules, learn them, stand on one’s own feet, and network with others locally, and only then freedom from soshan (injustice) was possible. A third key aspect to understanding empowerment is the women’s aspiration for self-respect which is linked to becoming income-earners. Earning an income through participation in self-help groups, for instance, leads to gaining respect from family and the community at large. This paper shows that in addition to agency and capability-building, awareness and respect are integral to women’s understanding and experience of empowerment.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Research and Perspectives on Development Practice Series Paper 23
    Keywords: Self-Help Groups; Women; Empowerment; Respect; Department of International Development, Maynooth University;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > International Development
    Item ID: 10991
    Depositing User: IR Editor
    Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2019 14:05
    Journal or Publication Title: Research and Perspectives on Development Practice
    Publisher: Department of International Development, Maynooth University
    Refereed: Yes
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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