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Economic Self-Help Group Programmes for Improving Women’s Empowerment: A Systematic Review

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 17:15 to 18:30
LIDC Upper Meeting Room
Thomas de Hoop



Carinne Brody, Thomas de Hoop, Martina Vojtkova, Ruby Warnock, Megan Dunbar, Padmini Murthy, Shari L. Dworkin, Meghna Ranganathan.


This mixed-methods systematic review focuses on the impact of women’s self-help groups (SHGs) on women’s economic, social, psychological, and political empowerment. SHGs are the most popular development intervention to stimulate women’s empowerment in South Asia.

Both governmental and non-governmental institutions spend formidable resources facilitating these savings and credit groups, under the premise that access to microfinance, training, and group support can enhance women’s empowerment. We found that women’s economic SHGs have positive effects on various dimensions of women’s empowerment, including economic, social and political empowerment. We did not find evidence for positive effects of SHGs on psychological empowerment.

The synthesis of the women’s experiences reported in the qualitative research further suggests that the positive effects of SHGs on economic, social, and political empowerment run through the channels of familiarity with handling money and independence in financial decision making, solidarity, improved social networks, and respect from the household and other community members. Our integration of the quantitative and qualitative evidence indicates that SHGs do not have adverse consequences for domestic violence.

Speaker’s Bio

Thomas de Hoop serves a senior researcher for American Institutes for Research in Washington D.C. Dr. de Hoop is currently the principal investigator on two projects, one with BRAC Bangladesh and the other with the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID).

The first is a two-year, cluster-randomized controlled trial to determine the impact of BRAC's early childhood development program on child development and nutrition outcomes in Bangladesh; the second is a seven-year, mixed-methods impact evaluation of a DFID-supported affordable housing program in India. In addition, he is the co-principal investigator for three systematic reviews concerned with the impact of self-help groups on women's empowerment, interventions to increase women’s participation in higher skilled occupations, and interventions to improve reading outcomes in Latin-America.

Previously, Dr. de Hoop worked as an evaluation specialist for the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) in New Delhi, India.