One of microfinance’s major achievements has been to empower women in societies that relegate women to a second-class status. At Negros Women for Tomorrow, 98% of clients are women. The rationale behind lending to women is that they are more reliable, family-oriented, and stationary. Women are more likely to spend the money on things like education and health care. One of the major themes of this blog is to highlight the interconnectedness of the impacts of microfinance. Giving women a livelihood pays dividends.
Empowering women to start a business not only gives them the respect that comes with being the breadwinner, but also makes them more influential in decisions made in the home and reduces their dependence on a partner. A widow that has relied on her husband will be reduced to poverty without grown children to support her. If having a large family was once a retirement plan, giving women a source of income could have positive ramifications for family planning. These are only a few of the examples of the benefits of empowering women. The effectiveness of microfinance at achieving this end is often disputed. In my experience, it is something very real and apparent. The degree to which microfinance has contributed is certainly open to debate. However, this post is not about women’s empowerment. It is about the role of the husband in making microfinance effective. Continue reading