The penetration of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in rural areas in promoting participation in development programmes is facing socio-cultural hurdles. Examine.
SHGs have been a path-breaking development in many ways. However, the women-centric SHGs suffer from a variety of socio-cultural hurdles in rural India.
India is a patriarchal society, where a woman’s role is often limited to her duties and responsibilities as a wife and mother. A woman’s place is believed to be the household, with economic and livelihood issues being the domain of the man or the male head of the family. SHGs, however, fly right in the face of such pervasive male domination and challenge the status quo. Where a male member of the family will receive encouragement and motivation if he exhibits entrepreneurial skills, the same quality is discouraged and stifled in a woman of the family. Our traditional societal and cultural norms dictate a strict role for man and woman, and there norms don’t involve women independently forming themselves into SHGs and running a business or helping each other. Lack of support from family members is one of the major hindrances to SHGs.
Speaking of SHGs in general, lack of social mobility is an issue faced by SHGs constituted by either men or women irrespective of their gender. Members of an SHG must learn to trust and depend on each other if they aim to gain maximum benefit from their cooperation and collaboration. This, however, poses a major challenge for most members who aren’t familiar or used to such modes of functioning.