Micro finance in the form of Self-Help Group (SHG) Linkage model has been able to inspire hope in the lives of thousands of rural poor especially poor women by shifting them from debt-trap of informal credit sources to formal credit system. In this context the present study makes a modest attempt to examine that extent to which microfinance programme is effective in empowering rural women. A primary field survey has been carried out in Kharibari block of Darjeeling district to get the real picture. Survey method was applied and interview schedule has been used to collect relevant data from the respondents. Using tabular analysis and chi square test, results of this study indicate significant differences between SHGs women (i.e., those involved with SHG) and non-SHGs women regarding various economic, socio-cultural and political indicators of empowerment. It was also found that SHGs women have more active participation in various income generating activities. They earned more income, saved more money and at the same time owned more assets than non-SHGs women. The study also stresses the need of more loans to be expanded to rural poor women folk to enhance their economic solvency and empower them economically.
Microfinance, Women Empowerment, Self-Help Group.