The primary objective of this review was to examine the impact of womens

The primary objective of this review was to examine

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The primary objective of this review was to examine the impact of women’s economic SHGs on women’s individual-level empowerment in low- and middle- income countries using evidence from rigorous quantitative evaluations. The secondary objective was to examine the perspectives of female participants on their experiences of empowerment as a result of participation in economic SHGs in low- andmiddle-income countries using evidence from high-quality qualitative evaluations. We conducted an integrated mixed-methods systematic review that examined data generated through both quantitative and qualitative research methods.SEARCH METHODSWe searched electronic databases, grey literature, relevant journals and organization websites and performed keyword hand searches and requested recommendation from key personnel. The search was conducted from March 2013–February 2014.SELECTION CRITERIAWe included studies conducted from 1980–January 2014 that examined the impact of SHGs on the empowerment of and perspectives of women
of all ages in low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the WorldBank, who participated in SHGs in which female participants physically came together and received a collective finance and enterprise and/or livelihoods group intervention. To be included in the review, quantitative studies had to measure economic empowerment, political
empowerment, psychological empowerment or social empowerment. Wealso examined adverse outcomes including intimate partner violence, stigma, disappointment, and reduced subjective well-being. We includedquantitative studies with experimental designs using random assignment to the intervention and quasi-experimental designs with non-random assignment (such as regression discontinuity designs, “natural experiments,” and studies in which participants self- select intothe program). In addition, we included qualitative studies that explored empowerment from the perspectives of women participants in SHGs using in-depth interviews, ethnography/participant observation, and focus groups.DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSISWe systematically coded information from the included studies and critically appraised them. We conducted statistical meta-analysis from the data extracted from quantitative experimental and quasi-experimental studies, and used meta- ethnographic methods to synthesize the textual data extracted from the women’s quotes in the qualitative studies. We then integrated the findings from the qualitative synthesis with those from the quantitative studies to develop a framework for assessing how economic SHGs might impact women’s empowerment.RESULTSWe included a total of 23 quantitative and 11 qualitative studies in the final analysis. Initially, we reviewed 3,536 abstracts from electronic database searches and 351 abstracts from the gray literature searches. We found that women’s economic SHGs have positive statistically significant effects on various dimensions of women’s empowerment,

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