Paper

Women's Empowerment through Islamic Microfinance in Egypt

Eradicating gender discrimination and women'’s poverty through microfinance

This paper explores the positive effect of Islamic finance on Egyptian women. The situation of women in Egypt has improved in recent years, in terms of economic participation, education, health care and legal rights. These improvements can be attributed to governmental and local actions, and the development of Islamic microfinance.

Islamic microfinance respects Islamic ethics, which stresses the importance of mutual cooperation, solidarity and economic empowerment to alleviate poverty. These targets are obtained by providing financial services at low interest rates to poor people. Microfinance and Islamic microfinance have much in common. Both focus on developmental and social goals and advocate risk sharing and active participation by poor.

Finally, 47% of microentrepreneurs in Egypt are women. Impact studies show that the sense of empowerment gained through entrepreneurship is stronger for Egyptian women than for men. Women microentrepreneurs enrolled in microfinance programs reported positive effects in terms of their image in their communities, increased self-confidence, and appreciation from their children. The projects allowed them to have a better life in general.