From the ECWG Team
Typology of women’s groups working towards economic empowerment in South Asia [podcast, brief, and report]
Women’s groups models vary widely across contexts, but context-specific documentation is limited. When such documentation is available, researchers, policy makers, and funders often describe groups inconsistently. The South Asia Gender Innovation Lab (SAR GIL) partnered with the Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups (ECWG) to develop a typology that can guide researchers and practitioners in describing women’s groups by using specific characteristics. The typology presented in the brief ands report focuses on economic women’s groups models implemented in South Asia. It identifies implementation models, key characteristics, and their implications for investing in women’s groups to improve economic outcomes in South Asia, using program documentation and evaluation research.
Listen to the podcast
Read the brief
Read the report
Symposium on improving evidence on Women’s Economic Empowerment and Women’s Groups in Uganda
Co-hosted by the Makerere University and the Evidence Consortium on Women's Groups, the purpose of this symposium was to increase awareness on the need to build evidence and a community of practice on women economic empowerment and women groups in Uganda. The intent of the symposium was to popularize evidence-based research approaches that support knowledge translation for relevant policy making and best practices in the field of women’s economic empowerment.
The objectives of this symposium include:
- Enhance the awareness of the importance of fostering WEE and using innovative solutions to improve the evidence base and increase information storage and uptake
- Raise awareness on building a community of practice of evidence based research on WEE and SGs
- Facilitate opportunities for networking, collaboration and exchange of ideas with government and NGO leaders and experts in evidence-based practice and education on women empowerment
- Reinforce the focus on the implementation of information exchange with policy makers to increase the efficiency of evidence-based decision making.
See the recording here
©Gates Archive/Nelson Owoicho
Recent research on women’s groups
Many policies attempt to help extremely poor households build sustainable sources of income. Although economic interventions have predominated historically, psychosocial support has attracted substantial interest, particularly for its potential cost-effectiveness. Recent evidence has shown that multi-faceted ‘graduation’ programmes can succeed in generating sustained changes. Here we show that a multi-faceted intervention can open pathways out of extreme poverty by relaxing capital and psychosocial constraints. We conducted a four-arm randomized evaluation among extremely poor female beneficiaries already enrolled in a national cash transfer government programme in Niger. The three treatment arms included group savings promotion, coaching and entrepreneurship training, and then added either a lump-sum cash grant, psychosocial interventions, or both the cash grant and psychosocial interventions. All three arms generated positive effects on economic outcomes and psychosocial well-being, but there were notable differences in the pathways and the timing of effects. Overall, the arms with psychosocial interventions were the most cost-effective, highlighting the value of including well-designed psychosocial components in government-led multi-faceted interventions for the extreme poor.
Read the paper here
In 2017, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the implementation of a Resilience Food Security Activity (RFSA) in Kamwenge District, Uganda, to the AVSI Foundation (AVSI). As part of the RFSA, AVSI was tasked with adapting a graduation program to improve food security, nutrition, self-reliance, and resilience among extremely poor refugee and host households in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement and in the surrounding host community of Kamwenge District.
Together with a consortium including Trickle Up and IMPAQ International, AVSI adapted six graduation components to the context of Kamwenge. The activity they designed was named Graduating to Resilience. Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) was selected to evaluate the activity using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to measure the impact and cost-effectiveness of different variations of graduation programming for refugees and host communities.
Read the Endline report here
©Gates Archive/Saumya Khandelwal
SHGs are increasingly playing an important role in empowering rural India with knowledge delivery related to various efforts of the government. In the covid era, too this platform played a powerful and result oriented platform whereby fighting covid was made easy by perform the self-help groups members in their villages through sharing of the protocols released by government. Self-help group played a powerful role when it came to mask production. As per the report of world bank self-help groups had played a powerful role silently in ninety districts of the country producing masks, sensitizing people with right information to tackle covid, running community kitchen and also supplying essential food supply during crisis situation.
Given the vast potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for bringing in innovations in business processes, thus leading to better quality services at lower costs, and also effective marketing of products through social media, like, electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM), this paper suggests promotion of ICT for rural development and women empowerment in India. Citing global and national success stories, the case of Kerala State in Indian union has been focused in this paper, pointing out the favorable policy measures like ‘Digital India’ at the national level and ‘Kerala Knowledge Economy’ at the State level. So, income generating initiatives by women should be encouraged so as to empower them particularly with extensive ICT integration. As micro Enterprises (ME) of women run through collective efforts like Self-Help Groups (SHGs) could empower them, models like SHG-Bank Linkage Programme (SHG-BLP) are successful for States like Kerala with vast network of SHGs of women, banking network and teledensity.
Child dietary diversity is very low across rural communities in Bihar. Based on the experience of behavior change communication (BCC) module roll out in self-help group (SHG) sessions in rural Bihar, this study aims to assess the impact of the intervention on child dietary diversity levels in the beneficiary groups. BCC roll out among SHG members is an effective mode to increase dietary diversity among infants and young children. The impact on child dietary diversity was significantly higher among mothers directly exposed to BCC modules. The BCC module also improved knowledge and awareness levels on complementary feeding and child dietary diversity.
Self-help groups are informal associations that use social capital to overcome resource constraints and act as a catalyst for rural development, women, and social empowerment. This study tries to identify the factors that affect the sustainability of self-help groups in natural disaster-affected communities. Natural calamities in the form of droughts, floods, or cyclones pose major challenges to livelihood in disaster-prone regions. The study is based on survey data from two different disaster-prone locations: the cyclone- and flood-prone Sundarbans, and drought-prone Bankura in West Bengal, India. Applying principal component analysis to the responses of 143 self-help group members, the study identifies four factors responsible for the sustainability of these self-help groups. This study shows that managerial functions, trust, fund utilization, and easy financing are the factors that matter the most. The findings suggest that policymakers and local governments can focus on these aspects to ensure the effectiveness of self-help groups in meeting their social objectives.
News and commentary on Women’s Groups
Mary Akao, a member of Obanga-ber Disability VSLA in Aduku town council, says that she has been saving between Shs.2, 000 to Shs.8, 000 weekly. Akao who was able to save. Shillings 700,000 plans to start poultry farming to improve her livelihood.
The Ismail Yusuf College in Mumbai’s Jogeshwari offers a unique certificate course on self-help groups (SHGs). The six-month-long certificate course has been designed to teach those from less-privileged backgrounds, especially women, the know-how of effectively running an SHG.
20 contingents of women Self-Help-Groups (SHGs) associated with the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) would be participating in the Republic Day parade for the first time since the inception of the mission in Jammu and Kashmir in the year 2014. Official sources said that each contingent of 30 women SHG members from all the 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir shall participate in the Republic Day march-past both at district and divisional headquarters in Jammu and Kashmir.
Action Against Hunger piloted MUAC tapes in Isiolo between 2017 and 2018 and showed that mothers and families could screen for acute malnutrition independently instead of waiting for health workers. In areas with other barriers to seeking care, caregivers can refer themselves to the facilities, reducing the alarming numbers of malnutrition in Kenya.