Does Micro-credit Empower Women?: Evidence from Bangladesh

How can credit be a gender sensitive and social equity tool?

The paper attempts to estimate the impact of male and female participation in micro-credit programs on:

  • Autonomy of women in decision making;
  • Gender relations within the household;
  • Life choices due to poverty, patriarchy and social norms.

Drawing from intensive data collected from Bangladesh, the paper uses the following indicators to assess the impact of microcredit programs on women empowerment:

  • Economic decision-making;
  • Purchasing capacity;
  • Control over loans;
  • Control over income and savings;
  • Mobility;
  • Political awareness and activism;
  • Networking and friendships;
  • Attitudes;
  • Family planning;
  • Spousal arguments and abuse.

The paper constructs a factor analytic approach to comprehend the numerous indicators of multiple types of latent empowerment. It argues through a rigorous quantitative analysis that there is positive and highly significant effect on nine of the ten indicators.

The paper concludes that male credit had a negative effect on several arenas of empowerment of women including:

  • Physical mobility;
  • Access to savings and economic resources;
  • Power to manage some household transactions.

About this Publication

By Pitt, M. M., Khandker, S. R. , Cartwright, J.