Credit with Education Impact Review No. 1: Women's Empowerment
Freedom from Hunger's Credit with Education strategy is an integrated microfinance and education program which seeks to address poverty alleviation by channeling money and education through women's associations to ultimately improve health and nutrition. Intermediate benefits include income, self-confidence, and increased knowledge and use of best practices.
This study on Freedom from Hunger's clients in Ghana, Bolivia, Burkina Faso and Thailand, however, was undertaken to evaluate the effect of the Credit with Education program on the empowerment of its women clients.
The study begins by explaining that provision of financial services to women and the six domains of empowerment enable women to:
- Develop a sense of self and vision of the future;
- Gain mobility and visibility;
- Raise their economic security;
- Increase their status and decision-making power within the household;
- Heighten their ability to interact effectively in the public sphere;
- Increase their participation in non-family groups.
The study finds that some of the constraints to women's empowerment, despite the provision of financial services, are:
- Nearly two-thirds of the loans provided to women are controlled by the men within the household due to the patriarchic nature of the societies. This can often lead to increased tension and physical violence;
- In Ghana and Bolivia, clients were able to interact and help other women/clients more;
- Involvement in communities has increased;
- Individually, women's overall self-confidence and self-worth has increased;
- Household situations were the only area that did not show significant improvement, especially in decision making, which mostly continues to lie with the male head.