Dalit women empowerment through Self Help Groups: A Critical Analysis
As a part of developing country we have a very clear picture of poverty and unemployment in our country. Dalit women are the most disadvantaged in the world and living in very fragile conditions. When the world is talking about women empowerment and equality, Dalit women are fighting for their existence and identity. Some organization or NGOs are working for the betterment of this group. Initiation of Self Help Groups in the rural areas giving opportunities to earn livelihood through microfinance for support activities like agriculture, cattle grazing, dairy, bee farming etc SHGs intend to enhance the equal status of women as participants by empowering them. SHGs are good formal institutions to generate income for needy person among their own community members by involving them in planning, decision making and management of sustainable natural resources. The women from the lower caste generally work long hours to feed their families and especially large number of dalit women earn their livelihood in informal sector. SHGs intend to help women get independent source of income outside of home which reduce dependency on husband’s income by increasing assertiveness of women and provide the exposure to new ideas, independent thinking and social support. Once womenfolk attain economic independence and are empowered they might question and protest against male dominance. Women SHGs have been playing a major role in both economic and social empowerment of women but there are also problems faced by the women in SHGs - Rigidity of the structure is a major drawback and, illiteracy, ignorance and lack of raw material reduce the productivity, patriarchal society obstructs the free participation of women in the groups. Illiteracy and unawareness of the group members with procedural formalities leads corruption in many cases. This paper intends to critically analyse the role of SHGs in enhancing dalit women’s capacity to gain entrepreneurial skills and independence from exploitative occupations.