The development of women empowerment: How access to microfinance services can impact the position of women

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Investing in women’s economic empowerment to increase gender equality and to reduce poverty are relevant goals of the United Nations. Herein offering access to microfinance services (i.e., micro loan, training) to women is considered an important means to strengthen women’s position. However, previous research offers mixed results. We present two studies that offer insight in the process of women empowerment instigated through access to microfinance services, specifically training, in the cultural context where the intervention is offered. Through focus group discussions (n = 21) and in-depth interviews (n = 10) with female microfinance borrowers in Sri Lanka we qualitatively assessed the meaning of women empowerment in this context. Two important aspects of women empowerment were differentiated; personal empowerment and relational empowerment. In the second study 4,041 female microfinance borrowers in Vietnam were randomly assigned to three conditions: (1) receiving a loan and training alone (n= 673), (2) receiving a loan and training for which their husband was invited (n= 1,509), or (3) receiving only a loan (control group; n= 1,859). We assessed women's personal (i.e., control beliefs) relational (i.e., relational quality) and economic (i.e., bargaining power) empowerment over time (baseline, 6 and 12 months after training). Women receiving additional training in general indicated stronger personal and relational empowerment compared to the control group over time. Women receiving additional training for which their husband was invited indicated stronger economic empowerment over time compared to the other conditions. A suggested underlying process at work and practical implications for interventions will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 8-Dec-2016
EventASPO annual meeting 2016: Dutch association of social psychological researchers - University of Leiden, Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 8-Dec-20169-Dec-2016


ConferenceASPO annual meeting 2016
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