The impact of husbands' involvement in goal‐setting training on women's empowerment: First evidence from an intervention among female microfinance borrowers in Sri Lanka

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Offering women access to microcredit and business training is a prominent approach to stimulate women's empowerment. Whereas men seem to profit from business training, women do not. We adjusted a goal‐setting training session on the basis of women's needs in collaboration with a women organization in Sri Lanka. We invited female microfinance borrowers and their husbands to the training as both parties should be involved to change existing gender roles with respect to their income‐generating activity. We investigated the impact of the training on goal‐setting skills, self‐esteem, and the couples' interaction in a subsequent task. In two field experiments, female borrowers and their husbands (nstudy1 = 68; nstudy2 = 76) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (a) goal‐setting training and setting goals as couple, (b) goal‐setting training and setting goals individually, or (c) no training (control condition). Participation in the training increased women's SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time bound) goal‐setting skills. We coded couples' interactions in a subsequent decision‐making task to assess signs of women's empowerment. Descriptively, we found some initial evidence of increased women's empowerment in the interaction (Study 2). We critically discuss results and how gendered power imbalances may need to be addressed to stimulate social change towards gender equity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-351
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Community & Applied Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date15-Apr-2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2019


  • empowerment
  • goal setting
  • partner interaction
  • training
  • women

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