SHG Resilience Project
Emotional resilience increased 24.9%
Mental wellbeing increased 21%
Self-Efficacy increased 18%
Empowerment for mobility increased 23%
“What I never learned in 9 years of other SHG meetings, I learned in a few months.”
Background + Situation
Research in high-income countries (HICs) shows that improving resilience consistently predicts positive mental, physical, educational, and livelihoods outcomes. However, few programs in India or other developing countries have focused on improving resilience as a key lever for impacting mental and physical well-being and fostering development. Self-Help Groups | SHGs present a relatively unexplored opportunity to improve resilience among women in India. While SHGs were originally formed to foster financial independence among women, there has been growing recognition that other services and strategies, such as health education, and now resilience, must be employed to help women and their families lift themselves out of poverty. Today, there are over 2.2 million SHGs in India, representing 33 million members.
CorStone Response | SHG Resilience Project
CorStone’s SHG Resilience Project builds resilience among low-income women in Self-Help Groups in Bihar, India, aiming to increase their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, social capital and life skills. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence-based resilience training program to be delivered in SHGs in India.
Working in partnership with Project Concern International, with support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in 2016-17 we conducted feasibility and acceptability trials of our resilience curricula and associated impact assessments. In all, approximately 650 women in 50 SHGs participated in the initial trials. Only 22% of women were able to read and write. Nearly one-third did not receive any formal education.
SHGs covered a specific resilience topic each month. Modules were designed to tie directly to women’s lives and most urgent goals, such as using communication skills to self-advocate for themselves, understanding one’s Character Strengths as a means to improve physical health, and using conflict resolution to improve teamwork in financial enterprises. CorStone employed a train-the-trainer model that utilized Community Facilitators, supported by CorStone Training Officers to conduct key resilience sessions on a weekly basis with their SHGs. As women were mostly illiterate or had very low literacy, our resilience curriculum was adapted to include a mix of games, songs, activities, and visuals.
Based on the success of these trials, we believe that incorporation of resilience training into health education for women in SHGs leads to greater physical, emotional, social, and economic improvements than those achieved by health education alone. As a next step, in 2018-19 we hope to work with partners to provide resilience programming in SHGs at greater scale in India and potentially other countries.