Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care (Jan 2021)

Does membership in women's group advance health and empowerment? Evidence from India

  • Somen Saha

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 5
pp. 1829 – 1834


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Objectives: Women's self-help groups (SHGs) are actively promoted to advance women's empowerment. SHGs are estimated to cover 112 million households in 2017; more than 90% are women. This article answers if membership in women's group is associated with better health and women's empowerment. Methods: Data on district level health and empowerment indicators were obtained from the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey 2015–16. Data on SHG activity, defined as concentration of SHG at district, was obtained from publicly available data. Twelve indicators were clubbed to measure four domains: maternal health, women's empowerment, child health, and health protection. Binary logistic regressions were computed with education and wealth as control in each model to analyze the change in 12 indicators with the presence of SHG. Results: Districts with higher concentration of SHG members were associated with higher odds of women delivering their babies in an institution (OR: 1.53), taking iron pills, sprinklers, or syrup (OR: 1.11), using family planning methods (OR: 1.03), having knowledge of ovulatory cycle (OR: 1.10), owning house or land (either alone or jointly) (OR: 1.18) and lower odds of women suffering from anemia (OR: 0.92). The odds improve when districts with higher concentration of SHG members were compared with those with lower concentration. Conclusion: Membership in women's group is associated with better health measures as well as asset ownership; higher the concentration of SHG, higher is the impact.