Gender and Rural Microfinance: Reaching and Empowering Women

Highlighting gender mainstreaming issues in rural finance
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This guide focuses on rural and poverty-targeted microfinance, and presents an overview of gender issues in rural finance. Increasing women's access to microfinance services increases their economic empowerment, household wellbeing and wider social and political empowerment. There is, however, a long way to go before women have equal access to financial services in rural areas or are able to fully benefit from them. The guide states that:

  • Gender division of labour restricts women to production of subsistence food crops and marketing of lower-profit goods;
  • Women are disadvantaged in access to and control of incomes;
  • Women receive lower loan amounts and often need the signature of a male guardian to take loans;
  • Late loan arrivals, compulsory savings and insurance premiums make it difficult for a woman to benefit from microfinance services.

Gender mainstreaming in rural finance requires effective methodologies for product design, structural and cultural changes in organizations providing financial services, appropriate linkage with non-financial services and mainstreaming gender in policies at the macro level. Addressing gender issues will require strategies to ensure that access to microfinance translates into empowerment and improved wellbeing for women.

About this Publication

By Mayoux, L. , Hartl, M.