Sociology Mind
2013. Vol.3, No.1, 114-117
Published Online January 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Comparative Study of the Financial Independence,
Self-Confidence and Decision-Making Power,
Awareness of the Social Resources and
Mental Health in the Women Members
of SHG and Non-Member of SHG
Farhad Asghari1, Abbas Sadeghi1, Khaled Aslani2
1Department of Educational S ciences, University of Guilan, Rasht, Iran
2Department of Counseling, Univer sity of Shahid Chamran, Ahvaz, Iran
Received August 6th, 2012; re vised October 7th, 2012; accepted October 21st, 2012
The main objective of the present paper was the evaluation of the program of the self help groups in the
Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Hamadan and Western Azerbaijan in Iran. The Casual-comparative research
method has been used in this research and statistical population was all the women members of SHG and
Non-Member of SHG. The statistical samples were included 289 the women members of SHG (137) and
Non-Member of SHG (152) due to the size of the population, more than /90 of population has been se-
lected. Three different research instrument have been used which are included Demographic features
questionnaire, Questionnaire of the evaluation of the self help groups’ empowerment, General Health
Questionnaire (GHQ-28). The reliability of the questionnaire of the evaluation of the self help groups’
empowerment was /80 and General health questionnaire (GHQ-28) was /92. According to the research
results, there are significant relationship between the amount of the financial independence, self confi-
dence, the decision making power and the amount of the awareness of women members of SHG and Non-
Member of SHG. Also, there were no significant relationship between the amount of cutting dependency
to direct financial supports and mental health the women members of SHG and Non-Member of SHG.
Keywords: Financial Independence; Self-Confidence; Decision-Making Power; Social Resources; Mental
The concept of feministic empowerment views needs more
attention than concepts like economic situation and it includes
women’s welfare and strategic benefits (Swain, 2006). Femi-
nists have also argued that the given women’s primary respon-
sibility for ensuring social reproduction, state policies that sub-
sidize the costs of social reproduction are an important aspect
of engendered development policy (Power, 2004). Another
concept suggested by Sen (1999) which emphasizes on the
effects of social empowerment , deals with some crucial matters
like co-existence and survivorship which include appropriate
nutrition, place of living and suitable hygiene. Regardless of
lifestyle these are called the fundamental principles of life. Em-
powerment is a multilevel construct and there-fore, analysis of
empowerment methods and outcomes should be directed at
three interdependent levels. These three levels are: 1) individual
or Psychological Empowerment (PE); 2) Community Empow-
erment (CE); and 3) Organizational Empowerment (OE) (Rap-
paport, 1984; Zimmerman et al., 1992; Israel et al., 1994; Zim-
merman, 1995). Mayoux (2000) defines empowerment as a pro-
cess of inside change, or inside power, improving capabilities
and communal mobilization. The individual empowerment may
be describes as appropriate decisions and improving auto-
nomy and the control of their own economic resources. In defi-
nition of the empowerment he mentioned that the empower-
ment has a direct relationship with power as a polyhedral proc-
ess which includes: power within: it enables women to express
their wishes in detail and also it gives them strategies for ex-
pressing changes in their life. Power to: it enables women to
improve the needed skills for achieving their wishes. Power
with: it enables women to evaluate and expressing their inter-
ests to organize and achieve them and to think about other
women and men’s organizations. Power over: which includes
changing the inequality of power and resources which influ-
ences women’s wishes and enable them to achieve their wishes?
The component of power incorporates different parts and levels
of life. Kabeer (1999) emphasize that empowerment is a proc-
ess that women deny their capability for making strategic deci-
sions. Women who are in cooperative groups are completely
safe by improving the feeling of self or Son. Empowerment
helps women to understand identity, capabilities and power. It
also helps the women to overcome shyness and to feel confi-
dence whenever they talk about themselves (Umushankar,
2006). These groups have an impact on empowerment and im-
proving efficiency by controlling the resources and recognition
and self-respect (Zamman, 2001). Recently different studies
about the positive effects of cooperative groups have been re-
ported (Simanowitz & Walker, 2002). Usually the main goal of
these economical services in India is thriftiness, credibility and
products of poor people in the village and urban areas to in-
crease the rate of incomes and improving the standards of life
(NABARD1, 2006). The result of Tomkha (2002) study about
the socioeconomic situation of 560 members of 223 cooperative
groups from 11 provinces before and after joining to the group
showed that: the average possession of the family increases
72.3% and during three years it reached to 11,793 rupiah. The
average net income also increases which was from different
businesses by getting the loan. It is from 20,177 rupiah to
26,889 rupiah. The rate of employment growth has been 17
percent. Getting loan for doing business has an increase from
50 percent to 70 percent. 47.8 percent of the families are not
below the poverty line anymore. The results of a study from
cooperative women group in Tamil Nadu (2007) showed that a
member who joins the group has cattle and properties and were
in debt. And the age and the productive properties except the
land have a negative independency with participation in the
group. But social backwardness, being in debt and the need for
the loan in the region or neighbor villages, has a positive effect
on women contribution. The result of Anjogam and Rasmamy
(2007) showed that the most popular reasons for joining to the
group are, getting loan, doing business, saving money and re-
ducing previous debts. Moreover Puhazhendi and Badatya
(2002) in their studies of the cooperative groups found that this
program has a positive social effect. Puhazhendi and Satyasai
(2000) argued that the social effect of the cooperative groups’
program is more than its economic effect. The results of Rao
study (2008) on reforms with a female face showed that the
latter lacks administrative support and relies upon the expendi-
ture of time and resources by participants themselves, re-em-
phasizing class and caste inequalities among women and un-
dermining the broader project of empowerment.
According to the results of Swain (2006) study, 88% of the
members reported that they feel more confidence after joining
the group. They showed positive change in expressing their be-
liefs and activity, confidence and communication skills have
been improved among them. Improving knowledge and contri-
bution in local political organization and participation in the
government political actions have been observed among the
members of the cooperative groups. The main purpose of this
article is to evaluate the cooperative groups and deals with
economic independency, self-confidence, decision making, and
familiarity with social resources in females headed households
and mental health of Self-Help Groups (SHG) in Kurdistan,
Kermanshah, Hamadan and western Azerbaijan Providences.
The Causative-comparative approach has been used in this
research. The research is about the women who members of
self help groups and females who are not a member of self help
groups which are under protection of welfare organization in
the Hamadan, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, and Western Azerbaijan.
Because the community and members of the self help groups
under study were limited, most of them had been taken as an
example. The members of the control group are similar to the
self help group members in many areas like cultural, social,
educational, economical situation, age and family.
Demographic features questionnaire, Questionnaire of the
evaluation of the self help groups’ empowerment, General health
questionnaire (GHQ-28).
Demographic features questionnaire: this questionnaire is
about the population of the women who are a member of the
SHG and who are not. The questions are about age, education,
marriage, place of living, the numbers of the members of the
family and the date of constitution which are provided by the
researcher. Questionnaire of the evaluation of the cooperative
groups’ empowerment: this questionnaire provided by the re-
searcher and based on 4 principles:
1) Evaluation of the economic independence;
2) Self-confidence and decision making;
3) Dependence and independence to direct economical sup-
4) Recognition of the social resources.
This questionnaire is based on some other questionnaires
presented by Baland et al. (2008), Basu and Srivastava (2010),
Swain (2006), which were about the evaluation of the empow-
erment of the cooperative groups. This questionnaire has been
confirmed by sociologists and psychologists. The calculated
durability of the questionnaire is based on the Cronbach alpha
factor which is 80.
General health questionnaire firstly conducted by Goldberg
(1972). This test evaluates the illness factors, one month before
taking the exam. Golberg first calculated the rate of GHQ and
then reported that the rate of sensitivity, specifity and the error
factor in a category of 60 questions are 77.5%, 88.4% and
15.4% respectively. These GHQ results in Iran are 86.5%, 82%
and 16% (Vaghobi, 2008). The results of Gibones et al. (2004)
study using test-retest approach are alpha coefficient/74. Ac-
cording to the cutting point which is 6.7, the sensitivity is 88
and specifity is 84.2. In Palaheng (1997) study in which the
cutting point is 22, the sensitivity, specify, category error, is: 88,
74, 80, 20 and the alpha coefficient in present study is /92.
As we see in Table 1, the average and standard deviation re-
lated to the Member of SHG and Non-Member of SHG are
Table 2 shows the one way variance analysis of variables
economic independence, self-confidence & decision-making
power, Cutting dependency to direct supports, Knowledge of
social resources and Mental health in members of SHG and
Non-Member of SHG.
Discussion and Conclusions
Evaluation of the results of the first hypothesis showed that:
“there is a huge difference between in the financial independ-
ency of the self headed females who are a member of SHG and
who are not.” The result of this research is similar to the results
of the Microfinance Innovation Department researches (2002),
Meyer and Tenkha (2002), Basu (2006) and Tamil Nadu (2007).
The results of the Microfinance Innovation Department re-
searches (2002) show that the sample members reported a 59
percent increase of their properties. Their living conditions get
better and they learned to save money. The results of Meyer
and Tankha’s study (2002) showed that the social condition of
560 members of 223 cooperative groups from 11 provinces has
a 72.3 growth in the family possessions after joining to the
1National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 115
Table 1.
Comparisons between mem ber and Non-Member of SHG.
Variables Groups NO MeansStandard
Members of SHG 137 45/12 88/1
independence Non-Members of SHG 162 26/11 77/2
Members of SHG 137
Self-esteem &
power Non-Members of SHG 162
37/16 52/2
86/14 80/2
Members of SHG 137 15/20 57/3
Cutting dependency
to direct supports Non-Members of SHG 162 04/20 06/3
Members of SHG 137 94/7 65/1
Knowledge of
social resources Non-Members of SHG 162 22/6 54/2
Members of SHG 137 98/26 38/11
Mental health Non-Members of SHG 162 61/25 30/12
Table 2.
The one way variance analysis of variables economic independence,
self-confidence & decision-making power, cutting dependency to direct
supports, knowledge of social resources and mental health in members
of SHG and Non-Member of SHG.
V Errors Sum of S D.F M.S F S.L
1728/58 1
297 104/27
1832/85 298 5/82
17/92 0/000
S & D-M-P B.G
297 168/14
298 23/38 0/000
CD to DS B.G
0/087 0/768
K of SR B.G
I.G 218/81
Total 1626/08
46/18 0/000
I.G 139/32
41980/4 1
Total 42119/7 297
0/986 0/323
Note: V = Variable; E.I = Economic Independence; S & D-M-P = Self-confidence &
Decision-Making Power; CD to DS = Cutting Dependency to Direct Supports; K
of SR = Knowledge of Social Resources; M.H = Mental Health; B.G = Between
Groups; I.G = Inter Groups; Sum of S = Sum of squares; M.S = Mean of Squares;
S.L = Signifi c ance Level.
cooperative group. A study in India on cooperative groups in 4
province showed that 36% members saved less than 30 rupiah
in a month, 51% of them 31 - 50 rupiah and 13% saved more
than 50 rupiah in a month. And for all the groups the savings
were about 33,700 rupiah in a year (Basu, 2006). Another study
carried out in Tamil Nadu. According to its results the family
who joined the group posse’s cattle and properties although this
family had huge debts before joining to the group.
The results of the second hypothesis showed that there is a
huge difference in the rate of self-confidence between the self
headed females who are a member of the cooperative group and
who are not. The results are similar to Anjugam and Ramasamy
(2007), Puhazhendi and Badatya (2002), Puhazhendi and Sat-
yasai (2000) and Swain (2007) according to the results of An-
jugam and Ramasami (2007), the social condition of the self
help groups members got better after joining to the self help
group. Moreover the dependency to lenders who are out of
group was decreased. Puhazhendi and Satyasai (2000) argued
that the social effects of cooperative groups’ programs are more
than its economical effect. Self help groups have an important
role in reduction of vulnerability of the poor people and help
them to work and make money. The results of the Swain (2007)
study showed that 88% of the members of the cooperative
groups reported a self-confidence improvement.
After studying the third hypothesis “there’s a huge difference
between the independence of self headed females who are a
member of the self help groups and self headed females who
are not.” The result was just the opposite. The results of this
study were in contrast with findings of Haris (2007), Basu
(2006), Puhazhendi and Satyasay (2000), Mont Gomry and
colleagues (1999), the organization of economic development,
rural system (2006) and Aisha Khan (2006). Another study car-
ried out by Puhazhendi (2000) between the years of 1996-1997.
It was about the cooperative groups’ performance. He found
that 61% of the members had an acceptable performance, 29%
had a normal performance and 10% had a weak performance.
Another study carried out on 12 rural development committee
in Bangladesh. 10% of the women reported that they have no
income and they get help from their friends and family (Mont
Gomery et al., (1996). Another research in India about self help
groups had been conducted. It studied 214 cooperative groups
in 108 villages in 4 provinces and 9 crowded regions. Conse-
quently these groups were economically and socially successful
(Rural Education and Action Development, 2006). Also Aisha
Khan (2006) believes in the positive effects of cooperative
groups. More than 90 percent of cooperative groups in Iran get
pension from welfare organizations and they also do some eco-
nomical activities however, most of the self help groups have
no saving fund and they make money by some economical acti-
vities although it is in contrast with the principles of the coop-
erative groups. It seems that cooperative groups in Iran, who are
financially independent, hide their independency. Because the
governmental organization might stop their financial support.
The fourth hypothesis there is a meaningful difference be-
tween the social resources of the women who are member of
the self help groups and who are not. In Table 2 the results
show that there is no meaningful difference between them. The
results of this hypothesis are similar to the results of Letil Field
and his colleagues research (2003).
A study carried out by the National Institution of Rural De-
velopment in the year 2004, showed that 57% contribute in
programs. 82% of the members said that they send their chil-
dren to school. 43% of the members have got loans. It showed
women contribution in making decisions (Rao et al., 1999).
Harper’s study (1998) on 1000 members of the cooperative
groups in 4 provinces showed that nutrition diets, properties
and level of education had been improved. The members get
benefits in different levels but for poor families it is a little
harder. Just 31% of members of the poor families improve their
properties and 15% improve their educational condition.
In the fifth hypothesis “there is a meaningful difference be-
tween the mental health of the women who are a member of the
self help groups and women who are not. According to the
results of Table 2, the hypothesis disproved. There’s no avail-
able research that specifically studies the relationship between
the self help groups and mental health. In Swain (2006) study
there was a huge difference between the answers of the self-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 117
help group and control group. 88% of the respondents reported
a increased rate of reliance after joining to the group. And they
feel more positive changes in expressing their opinion. Basu
and Vastava (2010) regard the increased rate of self-respect and
welfare as the effects of the cooperative groups.
The results of the Meyer and Tankha (2002) show that the
positive effects of the self help groups on the members are:
self-confidence, communication skills, participation in social
oppositions, logical responses to problems and reduction of
aggression. Poverty reveals the story of women and their pres-
sures and endeavors. Poverty causes low self-confidence, pres-
sure and dependency and limit capacities and participation in
self help groups leads to a change. Women show the “feeling of
freedom”, increase their self-respect and self-confidence, their
understandings change and the feeling of power and motion
have its roots in limita tion and force.
We should pay attention that where the mental health of the
women is not normal. It helps to choose the women for the self
help groups. women who are under pressure because of differ-
ent reasons such as death of husband, disease, husbands break-
down, disease of other members of the family, poverty and
financial problems, lack of control in life, lack of basic skills,
lack of social and family support, feeling of loneliness, absence
of sufficient mental and physical services and absence of psy-
chologists and chronic mental and physical disease.
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