From Microfinance to Macro Change: Integrating Health Education and Microfinance to Empower Women and Reduce Poverty

Is microfinance the best vehicle to educate poor women on reproductive health?
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This document calls on development agencies, governments, MFIs, and donors to fulfill the shared vision of human development. It proposes a strategy that combines Reproductive Health Education (RHE) with microfinance services in developing countries.

The document:

  • Reviews the link between poverty, poor health and inequality;
  • Presents microfinance as an effective poverty reduction strategy;
  • Appraises evidence for its impact on poverty, as well as its broader impacts;
  • Proposes microfinance as a vehicle for improving reproductive health outcomes, HIV prevention and women's empowerment;
  • Summarizes studies in Bolivia that are employing this strategy.

It cites the following features of group-based microfinance programs that make them ideal for the integration of RHE:

  • They bring poor women together on a regular basis;
  • Increased income and assets due to microfinance enables women clients to increase their consumption of primary health services and contraceptives;
  • Microfinance empowers women and enhances their role as decision-makers in the family.

The document concludes that:

  • Microfinance is a viable poverty alleviation strategy at the local, national and global levels;
  • It is the perfect vehicle for offering RHE to poor women;
  • Integrating microfinance and RHE is a critical tool for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The document recommends actions for development agencies, governments and donors that include:

  • Directing financial resources to MFIs;
  • Disseminating information about the combination of microfinance and RHE;
  • Supporting sustainable microfinance for the very poor.

About this Publication

By UNFPA & Microcredit Summit Campaign