Constructing Social Capital: Self-help Groups and Rural Womens Development in India
KeywordsKeywords: community development
West Bengal Gender and development
Women in rural India
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AbstractThe success of the group approach in rural micro-finance among women has inspired the tendency to look at all networking as essentially good and desirable in rural community development, without acknowledging the entrenched caste, class, ethnic and religious hierarchies that lead to diversities among women. Government schemes designed for poverty alleviation among rural women tend to be influenced by concepts and models that have been successful elsewhere, but do not take into account the diversities of situations at the local level. Internationally popular catchwords are used indiscriminately without questioning how these concepts can work effectively in the specific local context. This paper examines why some 'self-help groups' fail by using the Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) experience in India. The empirical survey was done over a period of two years in Burdwan, a relatively rich agricultural tract located in eastern India. We argue that whilst the 'group' has inherent benefits, it must never be allowed to become the paradigm in developmental policies for women.
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