Women are important support structures of families; however, they rarely receive the responsibility and social and economic respect as their male counterparts. In addition, their responsibilities are often limited to household work, leaving their family’s financial support only in the hands of men who are often addicted to drinking and other abusive behaviours. In an endeavour to empower women and enable them to unleash their complete potential in every aspect, HCDI and its implementing partners work with women to create Women’s Self Help Groups, also known as Women’s SHGs. Each Women’s SHG comprises of fifteen to twenty women, depending on the number of villages in the region that is covered by the project. As part of a Women’s SHG, women of the villages come together to obtain many advantages that are passed on to their children and families, thereby providing children with a better environment and strengthening their chances of completing their education and securing good work. These Women’s SHGs undertake many activities and bring about many changes for the members, including the following:
- Women are brought into SHGs with a view to empower them to cross the social and economic barriers that are placed before them by society; this enables them to participate in the decision making processes that affect their families and communities.
- Women are educated in the importance of their roles as equal partners of men and are taught to work together for sustainable development and communal harmony.
- The women save small amounts of money until a large enough amount has been collected and then this amount is given as loan to the members on a small rate of interest, helping them to set up small businesses.
- The money collected by the women and assigned to any member that requires it is often pooled with additional funds from regional credit institutions, further enhancing their productivity and living standards.
- Setting up businesses allows women to add to the financial income of their homes which they spend on improving the food choices and habits, bringing about child welfare, and fulfilling household requirements.
- Being able to earn an income also provides them with a stronger economic standing which further strengthens their social and political status.
- Women, through these SHGs, get a forum through which they discuss serious issues affecting them and their families such as child marriage, excessive liquor consumption by the men of the families, violence against women, government corruption, abuse of girls and other major concern.
- Women’s SHGs also give the women a platform through which they can voice the concerns to village leaders and government officials who can bring about a positive change.