South Asia, India, rural, microcredit, self-help groups, women, inclusion, exclusion, widows


Microcredit programs have been applauded as the magic bullet for the poor, especially women with limited financial resources. Building on previous research, this study examines effects of a microcredit self-help group (SHG) program on perceptions of social exclusion among widowed and abandoned women who participated in groups established after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, India (N=109). Data were collected on key aspects of the program such as loan amount and investment patterns, group experience, demographics, and perceived barriers to inclusion. Results indicate that investment patterns and group experience impacted the women's perception of barriers to social inclusion. In addition, older or abandoned women were more likely to perceive barriers to inclusion. Implications for designing and developing self-help groups to empower women who are challenged by barriers to full participation in activities that are key to functioning are discussed.

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