Microfinance:Women from the Margin to the Mainstream
AbstractMicrofinance is an effective mechanism in which small loans (microloans or microcredit) are provided to low-income or poor individuals, especially women, and access to credit is a catalyst for positive socio-economic changes in the lives of these marginal women in rural scenario. In India, Microfinance as a group lending approach that is; Self-Help Group (SHG)-Bank Linkage Programme as a costeffective mechanism provides financial services to the "Unreached rural women" leading to their change from margin to mainstream. This paper puts forward how microfinance makes an extensive recognition as a strategy for change with respect to poverty alleviation and socio-economic empowerment of poor women. Then, these empowered women are able to come into the mainstream of the society. In order to make the study more authentic, field level data were collected from concerned panchayat, block and district office following interview method with pre-structured questionnaire, meeting with the group members and different officials. Transformation of women from margin to mainstream as a multidimensional socio-economic process by associating with the microfinance institution, helps women gain control over their own lives through expansion of assets and capabilities in their own community and society. Field study was carried out in two blocks of Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal. The sample of respondents drawn for the study was from 48 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) from the two blocks. These groups received second dose loan from the banks, after successfully repaying the first loan. The groups started functioning during 2000- 2003, and have a responsibly successful record. The study focuses on transforming poor women from margin to mainstream through various indicators of economic and social empowerment. Major part of the conclusions is based on observation and interviews with the group members and knowledgeable persons in the vicinity, including government and bank officials.
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