Case Study

Impact of NGO Credit Programs on the Empowerment of Rural Women in Bangladesh: A Case of UTTARAN

Does micro-credit bring about women's empowerment?
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This paper aims to judge and evaluate women's perception of the changes in their lives, after gaining access to micro-credit, with a view to understand the empowerment potential of credit for the women, particularly in rural areas.

The paper draws its findings from a field study conducted in Bangladesh that examined the impact of micro-credit program on rural women of a local NGO, UTTARAN. The paper also presents brief information about UTTARAN's work, its goals and practices.

Further, the paper reviews literature and discusses:

  • The correlation between micro-credit and empowerment of rural women;
  • The sources of disempowerment of rural women in Bangladesh.

Finally, the study analyzes the changes in the status of women due to UTTARAN's micro-credit programs through a four-dimensional framework:

  • The perceptual dimension reveals that women have gained money-earning capacity leading to increased confidence and improvements in the lives of their family members;
  • The material dimension reveals that womenfolk acquired more skill in making financial decisions with better accuracy;
  • The relational dimension reveals a widespread acceptance by the males of the improved status and mobility of women. They also attribute a positive change in their attitudes towards marital relationship;
  • The cognitive dimension reveals that credit programs, leading to group formation among the women, have helped generate peer group support and solidarity. This has resulted in awareness and active participation of women in social and political lives.

About this Publication

By Newaz, W.