Social Networks, Mobility, and Political Participation: The Potential for Women's Self-Help Groups to Improve Access and Use of Public Entitlement Schemes in India

IFPRI Discussion Paper 1751

53 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2018

See all articles by Neha Kumar

Neha Kumar

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Kalyani Raghunathan

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Alejandra Arrieta

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Amir Jilani

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Suman Chakrabarti

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Purnima Menon

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Agnes R. Quisumbing

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Date Written: August 22, 2018

Abstract

Women’s self-help groups (SHGs) have increasingly been used as a vehicle for social, political, and economic empowerment as well as a platform for service delivery. Although a growing body of literature shows evidence of positive impacts of SHGs on various measures of empowerment, our understanding of ways in which SHGs improve awareness and use of public services is limited. To fill this knowledge gap, this paper first examines how SHG membership is associated with political participation, awareness, and use of government entitlement schemes. It further examines the effect of SHG membership on various measures of social networks and mobility. Using data collected in 2015 across five Indian states and matching methods to correct for endogeneity of SHG membership, we find that SHG members are more politically engaged. We also find that SHG members are not only more likely to know of certain public entitlements than non-members, they are significantly more likely to avail of a greater number of public entitlement schemes. Additionally, SHG members have wider social networks and greater mobility as compared to non-members. Our results suggest that SHGs have the potential to increase their members’ ability to hold public entities accountable and demand what is rightfully theirs. An important insight, however, is that the SHGs themselves cannot be expected to increase knowledge of public entitlement schemes in absence of a deliberate effort to do so by an external agency.

Keywords: INDIA, SOUTH ASIA, ASIA, self-help groups, women, public services, empowerment, citizen participation, social capital, government entitlement, social networks, political participation

Suggested Citation

Kumar, Neha and Raghunathan, Kalyani and Arrieta, Alejandra and Jilani, Amir and Chakrabarti, Suman and Menon, Purnima and Quisumbing, Agnes R., Social Networks, Mobility, and Political Participation: The Potential for Women's Self-Help Groups to Improve Access and Use of Public Entitlement Schemes in India (August 22, 2018). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1751. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3239573

Neha Kumar (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Kalyani Raghunathan

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Alejandra Arrieta

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Amir Jilani

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Suman Chakrabarti

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Purnima Menon

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Agnes R. Quisumbing

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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