Assessing the Role of Women in Microfinance for Water Supply and Sanitation Services

The impact of microfinance and access to water and sanitation on women in developing countries
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This paper states that two major barriers inhibit the empowerment of women: access to credit and access to water and sanitation. It points out two methods by which gender empowerment can be measured: one is by measuring women's time use since the majority of water gathering is performed by them, and the other is by measuring a woman's control over household expenditure as it directly captures gender balance. The paper also discusses the observed benefits of microlending and the challenges and risks that it faces. It makes the following conclusions:

  • Projects must incorporate gender sensitivity and educational outreach in order to ensure that women are given a voice in the development of WSS services, and ultimately benefit from loans for such services;
  • Gender inequality is a function of social inequity, and in order to address both, project interventions must recognize all stakeholders and be properly designed to mitigate any negative impacts, such as inadvertently creating more work for women;
  • Importance of sufficient communication, training, and capacity development should not be discounted. Resources must be made available to train women on how to save money to repay loans.

About this Publication

By Waldorf, A.