Abstract: Many have argued that supporting women’s leadership is an important pathway to women’s empowerment. However, there is still a need for better understanding of how women become leaders, particularly at the grassroots level, and how they support social change. This article explores women’s leadership as part of a grassroots microfinance organisation, Rojiroti. Through interviews and focus group discussions, it finds that Rojiroti’s women leaders were motivated to become leaders to create better opportunities for their families and communities, and that they lead in line with frameworks of transformative leadership by supporting relationship building, by facilitating and guiding knowledge transfer and by providing space for reflection and skills for action (Wakefield, 2017). In particular, their situated knowledge was essential for inspiring shared vision for challenging unequal power relations. Overall, better understanding their leadership, that particularly nurtures relationships and collaboration, due to their position as being from the social groups they sought to support, is critical to the current challenges facing interventions and activism that seek to promote women’s empowerment and contribute to social change.
Keywords: gender; grassroots; India; inequality; leadership; power relations; Rojiroti; social change