Social Networks, Mobility and Political Participation

Using cross-sectional data from 2015, Kumar et al. (2019) looked into the potential for women’s SHGs to improve access to and use of public entitlement schemes in India. Their sample size at baseline included 2,744 women across five states; 38% belonged to an SHG. They found that while SHGs do not increase awareness of these schemes, SHG members are significantly more likely to make use of them. SHG members were also found to be more politically active than non-members: they were more likely to have voted in the last election of their own accord and to have participated in both general village assemblies and women-only village assemblies. In addition to political empowerment, the study looked at social empowerment measures such as social networks and women’s mobility. SHG members were more likely to know other women in their village, be part of a social group with them and more likely to borrow money from people in their village. They were less likely to need permission from husbands or other household members to go to a village meeting. 

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