Case Study

The Impact of Microfinance Programs on Women's Lives: A Case Study in Kabul Province

Examining the contribution of microfinance to women’s empowerment in Afghanistan

This case study focuses on women’s participation in a microfinance program in a peri-urban community in Afghanistan. It is part of a larger research project that examines the effects of women’s participation on gender roles and relations within the family and local community.

The study’s findings are based on analysis of qualitative data collected through interviews with eight families whose female members were microfinance clients and two non client families. Findings indicate that participation in the microfinance program:

  • Benefited women who already had a high status in their families, greater access to the public sphere and family support;
  • Enhanced women’s feelings of self-worth and courage;
  • Helped women feel that they contributed more to household well-being;
  • Helped participants gain more control over household finances.

The study concludes that microfinance initiatives have made little progress into changing decision making power or the gendered division of labour. MFIs have sidelined women’s economic independence and prioritized the economic well-being of the family and loan repayment. They have also prioritized financial sustainability above efforts to achieve social aims and objectives.

About this Publication

By Zand, S.