Ramaiah Savitha, S. Suryaprakash, Vijesh Vijaya Krishna:
Empowerment of Rural Women through Participation in Sthree Shakthi Groups and its Influence on Decision Making : A Socio-Economic Study in Southern India


1University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Economics, India
2University of Hohenheim, International Agricultural Trade and Food Security, Germany

The study assessed the empowerment of rural women through participation in Sthree Shakthi groups (SSG), a government / NGO sponsored rural women empowerment self help group programme, and its impact on decision making role of women in agriculture. The primary data were collected from 90 stratified randomly selected households comprising equal number from Large farms (LF), Small farms (SF) and Agricultural Labour (AL) categories - 15 SSG members and 15 non- members from each category. A composite empowerment index was constructed to assess level of empowerment of rural women. Logistic regression was employed to determine the probability of women participating in decision making.

The study showed that SSG are positively impacting the empowerment of rural women. The socio-economic factors like education, asset ownership, work participation and access to credit were found to significantly influence the empowerment of women. SSG member women had higher level of empowerment compared to the non- members. Further, women of SF and AL categories had higher level of empowerment compared to LF women. While the social empowerment was achieved through greater participation in community and social organisations, the economic empowerment was through greater access to credit and increased employment status.

Among SF and AL groups, participation of women in farm production decisions was in the form of `joint' and `independent' decisions, where as it was in the form of `opinion sought' and `opinion considered' in case of LF group women. The difference in production decision scores between SSG members and non-members was significant in case of SF households. Women did not have a major role in farm financial decisions, but their `opinion sought' in the decision process. Explanatory variables likes age, education of woman and that of husband, employment and empowerment had positive influence on the decision making role of women. Husband being alcoholic, number of adult males in the family and size of land holding were found to adversely influence the role of women in decision making.

Keywords: Decision making, sthree shakti group, women empowerment


Contact Address: S. Suryaprakash, University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural EconomicsBangalore, India, e-mail: ssuryaprakash@rediffmail.com
Andreas Deininger, November 2005