Empowering Women to Achieve Food Security Microfinance
This paper reviews empirical evidence on the contribution of microfinance to women's empowerment.
While the record of microfinance outreach to women has been impressive, there has been no conclusive evidence on impact. Empirical studies from Bangladesh have, however, shown that:
- Welfare impacts on households are significantly better with increased consumption and asset building when borrowers are women;
- Borrowing by women has an important effect on the nutritional status of sons and daughters, and on the education of daughters;
- Microfinance has significant positive effects on women's physical mobility and social interactions in the community.
Empirical evidence suggests that these positive effects cannot be taken for granted, as there are numerous instances of women not having any control over loan use after giving their loan amounts to their husbands. The paper recommends that:
- Financial products and packages be tailored to specific local preference and skill-base of women;
- Microfinance programs respond to pre-existing social and cultural constraints;
- New policies that renegotiate property rights and replace rules sustaining gender inequality be developed and implemented.