Is microfinance for women empowerment a zero sum game?
Microfinance interventions are often hailed to have significant positive consequences for women empowerment. However, in the last decade, the significance of microfinance has been contested due to unintended consequences that undermine women’s wellbeing. This paper sets out to examine whether microfinance empowers women or is it a zero-sum game. The paper deploys a participatory mixed-method approach including household questionnaire surveys, focus group discussions and key informant interviews to investigate the dynamics of microfinance effects on women in communities of different vulnerability status in Ghana. The results of hierarchical regression, triadic closure and thematic analyses demonstrate that the economic benefits of microfinance for women is also directly associated with conflicts amongst spouses, girl child labour, polygyny and the neglect of perceived female-domestic responsibilities due to women’s devotion to their enterprises. In the light of limited empirical evidence on potentially negative impacts of women empowerment interventions in Africa, this paper fills a critical gap in knowledge that will enable NGOs, MFI’s, policy makers and other stakeholders to design and implement more effective interventions that mitigate undesirable consequences.
Citation : Salia, S. et al. (2017) Is microfinance for women a zero sum game? SAM-African Microfinance Week, Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia; 9-13 October, 2017. https://www.ada-microfinance.org/en/events/african-microfinance-week
Peer Reviewed : Yes