Microfinance & Women Empowerment
Microfinance and Women Empowerment are strongly related. Microfinance programs specially designed for women can alleviate poverty among women, can help them in attaining financial-self sufficiency and this way can lead to women empowerment by reducing gender inequality.
Microfinance for Women is an important issue in todays’ world as there is no doubt that proper microfinance facilities can lead to women empowerment. But, even today women’s accessibility to microfinance services are quite less compared to that of men.
Microfinance Programs for Women:
In the 1970s, women movements were taking place in different parts of the world. These movements made it clear that non availability of loans and credits were posing serious problem for women in earning income through self employment.
After this realization, significant number of measures were taken to raise the availability of credit for the women. Many Women’s Organizations across the world included savings activities and microfinance activities in their work programs. In the 1980s, many new microfinance institutions emerged through out the world.
The most significant of them was Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. According to a study, almost 97% borrowers of this microfinance institution are women.
The 1990s saw further emergence of many micro-finance programs which were specially designed for women.
The microfinance facilities were made available for women on a greater extent as it was found that women have a record of high repayment rates.
Perspectives of Microfinance Programs Targeting Women:
The increasing number of Microfinance Institutions and Microfinance Programs were taking place all over the world in order to achieve three objectives which were Poverty Alleviation, Financial Self-Sustainability and Women Empowerment. But, in each of these objectives special focus was on providing microfinance facilities to women.
When, the microfinance programs targeted poverty alleviation, it was found that level of poverty was even higher in women and women were more suffering from poverty as they had a strong responsibility towards the well being of their respective families.
When, the microfinance programs concentrated on attaining financial self-sustainability, then also the major focus was on women because it was already proved that women maintain higher loan repayment rates and the economic activities of women contribute significantly to the economic growth of the country.
In case of Women Empowerment objective of microfinance programs, it was quite obvious that the main focus would be on women. Different, microfinance programs were specially designed for women to reduce gender inequality and to establish human rights.
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