[Answered]What are self help groups? Discuss various socio-cultural hurdles faced by Self Help Groups (SHGs) in promoting increased participation in development programmes.

Demand of the question

Introduction. What are self help groups?

Body. Discuss various socio-cultural hurdles faced by Self Help Groups (SHGs) in promoting participation in development programmes.

Conclusion. Way forward.

Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are small voluntary association of poor people, who come together for the purpose of solving their common problems through self-help and mutual help. The SHGs usually comprise of very poor people who do not have access to formal financial institutions.

Various socio-cultural hurdles faced by Self Help Groups (SHGs) in promoting participation in development programmes:

  1. Illiteracy: About 30% of rural people are illiterate according to government data. They don’t know the importance and working of SHGs. Lack of practical knowledge and information adversely affects the efficacy of SHG. Even though the authorities take measures for creating awareness about the schemes beneficial to them, still the majority of the group are unaware of the schemes of assistance offered to them.
  2. Lack of Stability: In the case of SHGs dominated by women, it is found that there is no stability of the units as, many married women are not in a position to associate with the group due to the shift of their place of residence.
  3. Social barriers: Women SHGs in India face various social barriers. For example, women in villages are still seen as caretaker of children and housewife. They are not allowed to work or participate. This hinders women’s participation in SHG. Various women, even if they participate, often do not attend the meetings due to house activities.
  4. Caste and Religion:In rural areas caste and religious systems dominate and are very deep. Group formations based on caste and religious lines hinders the working of SHGs. People belonging to different castes are not ready to participate and cooperate with each other.
  5. Patriarchy: Prevalence of patriarchal mindset in the rural areas, see women as weak in all respects. Female child discrimination restricts the women to take active part in various decision-making processes.
  6. Lack of funding: Generally rural people lack funds or are not ready to spend out of pocket. It is found that in most of the SHGs, the financial assistance provided to them by the agencies concerned is not adequate to meet their actual requirements. The financial authorities are not giving adequate subsidy to meet even the labour cost requirements.

Way forward:

  1. Awareness: Awareness is needed among rural people about various benefits of schemes and objectives of SHG. Frequent awareness camps can be organised by the Rural Development department authorities to create awareness about the different schemes of assistance available to the participants in the SHGs.
  2. Funding:Financial institutions must provide adequate financial assistance to the SHGs on the basis of their performance. Efforts must be made to provide loans to SHGs at less interest rates.
  3. Removing taboos: Effortsmust be made by removing various taboos and awarding people about Increasing role of women. Gender sensitisation efforts must be made.
  4. Ensuring women participation: Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) can play a significant role in empowering women entrepreneurs by providing basic education, motivation training, and financial help.

 SHG and the socio-economic programmes reinforce each other and promote all-round development of the children, the women, the households and the communities. It is a process which ultimately leads to self-fulfilment of each member of the society. It is in this direction that SHGs are moving towards fulfilling their objectives with a meaningful strategic direction.

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