Gender Relations, Empowerment and Microcredit: Moving on from a Lost Decade

Susan Johnson

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83 Citations (SciVal)


Assessments of the impact of microcredit targeted towards women have tended to focus on evaluating whether women have become "more empowered", rather than on the dynamics of gender relations in which they are embedded. This paper reports evidence from Malawi that shows how aspects of gender relations, both within the household and more widely, both facilitate and constrain the impact of microcredit. The failure to address and incorporate analysis of gender into microfinance practice over the past decade means that opportunities have been lost to enhance its empowerment impact. However, such failure is also symptomatic of the huge difficulties in getting gender onto the agenda of development organisations in general. The paper concludes by suggesting that the new interest in client-led microfinance presents an opportunity that must now be seized to make these programmes more gender-responsive by also appealing to microfinance institutions' financial bottom line.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-48
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Development Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Non-labor Discrimination (J160)
  • Human Development
  • Economics of Gender
  • Mortgages (G210)
  • Banks
  • Economic Development
  • Micro Finance Institutions
  • Other Depository Institutions
  • Human Resources


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