Microfinance, Rural Livelihoods and Women's Empowerment in Uganda

How can microfinance facilitate women's empowerment?
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This study explores the impact of microfinance on the empowerment of married rural women in Nebbi district, northwestern Uganda. It examines how gender relations are inherent in the community’s livelihood practices, what changes occur in clients’ well being when they are able to access microfinance and how clients translate these changes into changes in gender relations individually and within their households and community.

Study findings reveal that the social hierarchy and livelihood practices in the microfinance program area give men community leadership and rights to access, own, and decide over vital livelihood assets and strategies. Women are seen as visitors in their natal homes and aliens in their marital homes.

Microfinance in itself is inadequate to improve clients’ well-being if it is not supported by other poverty reduction policy interventions. Microfinance, however, significantly facilitates women’s empowerment, individually and collectively. The study outlines the following policy recommendations for microfinance to improve clients’ well-being and increase women’s empowerment:

  • Adopt a policy that engenders microfinance industry;
  • Institutionalize empowerment impact assessment to hold MFIs gender accountable;
  • Adopt an integrated approach to build clients’ and MFI sustainability.

About this Publication

By Lakwo, A.