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Microfinance and Gender Empowerment

Ngo, Thi Minh and Wahhaj, Zaki (2009) Microfinance and Gender Empowerment. (Submitted)

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Abstract

In the past 30 years, micro�nance has carried many promises of social and economic transformation, with the shift towards targeting women being seen as a major strategic move through which the promise of social development could be most e¤ectively delivered. However, ethnographic studies have shown that many women relinquish the use of their loans to male members of the household, belying the empowering promise of micro�nance. We propose a simple model of household bargaining to examine how providing women with credit a¤ects production and decision-making power in the household. In particular, we allow for cooperative endeavours in production between the husband and the wife and the possibility of investing a loan in such endeavours. We show that the introduction of a microcredit programme is likely to have widely heterogeneous impacts, and can adversely a¤ect the bargaining power of some women. We demonstrate that access to credit allows a woman to strengthen her bargaining position through an expansion of her autonomous activities (the causal mechanism hoped for) only in a limited number of cases: when she is able to invest her new capital pro�tably in an autonomous activity, and her husband has no alternative activity in which the same capital would generate comparable returns, or lacks the power to overrule her preferred investment choice. The two cases in which it is most likely that the availability of credit would enable the woman to strengthen her bargaining position within the household are (i) when capital can be invested in a cooperative activity to which both spouses contribute in an important way, and (ii) when a large share of the household budget is devoted to expenditures on household public goods.

Item Type: Monographs (Working Paper)
Keywords: Microfinance Gender empowerment
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Financial and Management Studies > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)
Depositing User: Thi Minh Ngo
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2010 10:34
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/8175

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