Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17265 The Development of Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Widowed and Abandoned Women Through Self-Help Microcredit Groups: The Case of Rural South India

Schedule:
Saturday, January 14, 2012: 9:00 AM
Roosevelt (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Chrisann Newransky, MA, MSW, MSW/PhD student, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Karen Kayser, PhD, Professor, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Margare Lombe, PhD, associate Professor, Boston College, Boston, MA
Background and Purpose: Widows, along with women whose husbands have left them, are one of the poorest populations India. To fully engage in economic development programs, this population needs extra support to overcome social stigma. Guided by Bandura's conceptual model of self-efficacy, this study examines effects of a microcredit self-help group program implemented for widowed and abandoned women in Tamil Nadu, India. Two research questions are addressed: (1) Do the self-efficacy beliefs of widows and abandoned women affect their well-being? (2) Do aspects of the microcredit program e.g., participation in regional trainings and group facilitation by staff affect the self-efficacy beliefs of these women?

Methods: Research questions were answered using a sample of self-help microcredit program participants (N=64). Data were collected using a survey instrument. Key study variables included self-efficacy beliefs, well-being, participation in regional trainings, group facilitation, perception of caste discrimination, age, and education. A series of univariate and bivariate statistical procedures assessed the association between study variables. To understand the relationship between self-efficacy and well-being, a multiple regression procedure was conducted. To investigate the effects of the self-help program (i.e. training and facilitation) on the women's self-efficacy beliefs, a logistic regression procedure was conducted.

Results: Widowed and abandoned women's self-efficacy beliefs were related to well-being [F(4,55)= 7.92; p<0.01]. Specifically, women with high self-efficacy are associated with high levels of well-being (b =2.68, t=3.07, p<0.01), and women who strongly perceive that their problems are due to caste discrimination are associated with lower well-being (b =-1.27, t=-3.86, p<0.01). Moreover, aspects of the self-help microcredit program play a significant role in influencing self-efficacy beliefs for these women (Likelihood Ratio X2 = 15.45, df=5, p<0.01). High levels of participation in regional trainings seem to increase the likelihood of high self-efficacy (b=1.41, OR=4.10, Wald X2=3.91, df=1, p=0.05), and more frequent visits by facilitators are related to an increased likelihood of high self-efficacy (b=1.54, OR=4.67, Wald X2=1.82, df=1, p=0.05). Women who strongly perceive that their problems are due to caste discrimination are more likely to have lower self-efficacy (b=-0.59, Wald χ2 = 3.76, OR=0.55, df=1, p=0.05).

Discussion/Implication: Results suggest that widows and abandoned women with strong self-efficacy beliefs are more likely to have higher well-being. A strong sense of efficacy would help the women persevere in the face of ordinary social realities that include adversity, frustration, and inequality. Results indicate that group facilitation and participation in regional trainings could play an important role in influencing the efficacious beliefs of these women. The findings reinforce the idea that the facilitator is an important social model through which women can learn new behaviors and consider new perspectives on society. The regional trainings provide vicarious experiences of overcoming hardship, confronting abuse, and dealing successfully with family issues. The study found that women who strongly attribute their problems to caste discrimination are more likely to have lower self-efficacy and poor well-being. This observation suggests that women from Scheduled Castes may need more support to overcome social stigma, multigenerational poverty, and other factors associated with their situation.

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