Gender Mainstreaming and Empowerment of Women in Rural Microfinance

Facilitating women's empowerment through targeted initiatives
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This paper discusses the need to empower women and presents targeted initiatives that support women's empowerment.

Women have suffered over the past many decades due to higher poverty incidence and unequal power relationships with their male counterparts and wider community. The paper states that:

  • Minimalist microfinance with little integration with other services has no positive impact on women's empowerment and may even reinforce the patriarchal system;
  • Reaching a common understanding on terms like gender mainstreaming and women empowerment is essential to design programs for achieving these goals;
  • Gender mainstreaming involves bringing the perceptions, experiences, knowledge, needs and interests of women and men to bear on policy-making, planning and decision making;
  • Womens empowerment should facilitate women's articulation of their needs and priorities;
  • Gender Action Learning System is a tool that helps households and their members to envision their life and livelihood circumstances, and plan how they can change it.

The paper concludes that empowerment of women and gender equality can only be achieved with the cooperation of men and that existing microfinance groups can serve as a platform for promoting gender equality.