Week #12: Women & Micro-Loans


  • Women are one group of people that have for centuries been marginalized and treated as second-class citizens. Even the seemingly large advances in woman’s equality in the western world much of Africa sees large gaps in equality and a great deal of marginalization. The third MDG calls for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of woman in the developing world. Many of these places in Africa have traditional roles for women that are hard to change as “the inclusion of women in the development process often reasserts women’s position in unpaid work and the informal economy that rests on gendered assumptions of woman as carers and mothers”(Harman 90). These assumptions and cultural norms, that this is what women should do, is a problem that has continued to marginalize women’s job prospects in Africa. If these continue to hold true in many African nations the ability of their women to stop being marginalized becomes more difficult.hilfe,1737
  • To help achieve MDG goal #3 there must be a change in the approach of addressing the goal. At the current moment the structure of the MDGs means that some goals take priority over others gaining more funds. While the seemingly less important goals receive significantly less funds making it very difficult to have effective implementation which marginalizes the goals which receive less funding. “Woman need to be seen beyond issues of child birth, childrearing, and HIV/AIDS”(Harman 98) to truly have an effect on their marginalization. If we simply look to fix things women may encounter like childrearing and HIV we will never actually address the issue of inequality. One way to effectively achieve the goal is to have women be the focus of development for the nation and poverty alleviation. If women in these countries are given the proper tools to have successes they will thrive.
  • Namibia is one of the stronger economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, which helps it have a large job market. It also does marketable better than many other African nations when it comes to gender and women’s equality in the work place. If you’re a woman “living in Uganda, Namibia, Ghana or Nigeria you are three times more likely than your husband, son, or brother to run a business”(Easton FOURTUNE). Women in Namibia are lucky to have opportunities that many of their counterparts around Africa do not have.namibia_pol90
  • One way some have seen to improve the poor and women’s lives is through micro-loans and similar small individual loans. These loans give capital without asking for collateral, which allows the poorest of the poor to get a loan that would have been impossible before. Although I do not think these loans will by themselves be the answer to eradicating poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa they will help thousands of people and communities overcome their circumstances. Since women have been left out of many traditional avenues of employment in these countries before these micro-loans allow them to start small businesses escaping the barriers to employment. These loans allow self-sufficiency of women because they are no longer dependent on a male figures income but can make a living on their own.Namibia_women_in_culture
  • In Namibia the micro-loan industry has seen a boom as hundreds of these loan companies have opened making it one of the larger industries in the economy. Although it has been seen as a success by many, some concerns about the industry such as “demand that borrowers surrender banking cards and pin codes so that they can withdraw their cash first”(Villager) which is deemed illegal by the government. Some companies have had problems not following regulation, which has marred the image of the industry to some extent but with the wide number of institutions and the millions of dollars in micro-loans in the country it is safe to say Namibia has benefited from the use of micro-loans. To a large extent the micro-loans have been a big success, with some setbacks coming from lenders illegal practices and borrowers inability to repay loans, on the whole though these institutions have helped pull people out of poverty.


Hallward-Driemeier, M. Hasan, T., and Rusu, A.B. Women’s Legal Rights over 50 years – 55 pages; try to get the gist of the article

Kabeer, N. Conflicts over Credit: Re-Evaluating the Empowerment Potential of Loans in Women in Rural Bangladesh – 22 pages

Mayoux, L. Tackling the down side: Social Capital, Women’s Empowerment and Micro-Finance in Cameroon. – 30 pages

Chen, M., Sebstad, J. and O’Connell, L. Counting the invisible workforce: The case of homebased workers. – 8 pages


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