Microfinance and Domestic Violence

Does participation in microfinance programs empower women?
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This presentation presents evidence that indicates decreased domestic violence among microfinance program participants.

In a survey of 1300 households in Bangladesh, 19% of women reported being beaten, while women with schooling and microfinance loans were less likely to be beaten. Evidence from various microfinance programs suggests that:

  • About 68% of members make household decisions;
  • Women who were principal household managers increased from 33% to 51% due to program participation;
  • Women were in a stronger position to ensure children’s access to food, schooling, and medical care;
  • Program participants were more empowered than non-participants due to their physical mobility, asset ownership, involvement in decision-making, and political and legal awareness;
  • Program participants contributed more to household resources, leading to decreased levels of tension and violence in the household;
  • Participation led to increased self-confidence and improved status within the community.

Domestic violence is anchored in deep-rooted structures of power and ideological norms. Microfinance is not a panacea, but it does open up choices for poor women. Access to resources and group participation can create conditions for decreased violence and long-term improvement in status.

About this Publication

By Hashemi, S.M. & Rojas-Garcia, E.