The purpose of this paper is to see whether the government subsidized microfinance program has been able to expand physical, economic, political and socio-cultural spaces across castes, creeds and religious beliefs.
The District of Murshidabad, West Bengal, India has been chosen as field of investigation. Initial survey was conducted in 2006. Same households were resurveyed in 2008. Therefore, the data are two period panel data. During survey a stratification was done according to socio-cultural status. To remove unobserved heterogenity, difference in difference method has been applied.
The program has been found to succeed in impacting upon physical, economic and political components of empowerment, but has failed to expand socio-cultural spaces of four socio-religious communities (SRCs) namely, upper castes, other backward castes, schedule castes (SCs) and Muslims (Ms). This study also examines the impact of the program on different measures of empowerment across SRCs, and shows that program participation has significant impact on the likelihood of empowerment for members of UC community.
Participation in SGSY program enable women to negotiate gender barriers, increase their control over their own lives, and improve their relative position in their households, though to some extent. But we do not mean to suggest that participation in SHGs is the only panacea to gender subordination. The authors acknowledge the need for consciousness raising, organizing and struggling for women’s right for women empowerment.
There is hardly any study measuring the empowerment potential of microfinance program across SRCs.
JEL Classification — C23, I38, J16
Mukherjee, A.K. (2015), "Empowerment through government subsidized microfinance program: Do caste and religion matter? ", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 2-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSE-02-2013-0036
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