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Can women's self‐help groups improve access to information, decision‐making, and agricultural practices? The Indian case

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Raghunathan, Kalyani (main author), Kannan, Samyuktha (author), Quisumbing, Agnes R. (author)
Online journal article
Publication Date:
Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
agricultural development, decision making, extension communication, gender, information centers, information flow, information issues, information needs, information sources, rural development, women, access, India (Southern Asia), empowerment
14 pages., via online journal,, Effective agricultural extension is key to improving productivity, increasing farmers’ access to information, and promoting more diverse sets of crops and improved methods of cultivation. In India, however, the coverage of agricultural extension workers and the relevance of extension advice is poor. We investigate whether a women's self‐help group (SHG) platform could be an effective way of improving access to information, women's empowerment in agriculture, agricultural practices, and production diversity. We use cross‐sectional data on close to 1,000 women from five states in India and employ nearest‐neighbor matching models to match SHG and non‐SHG women along a range of observed characteristics. We find that participation in an SHG increases women's access to information and their participation in some agricultural decisions, but has limited impact on agricultural practices or outcomes, possibly due to financial constraints, social norms, and women's domestic responsibilities. SHGs need to go beyond provision of information to changing the dynamics around women's participation in agriculture to effectively translate knowledge into practice.