Women and microcredit: alternative readings of subjectivity, agency, and gender change in rural Mexico
Within the last two decades, the growth of microcredit, or the provision of small loans to poor borrowers, has become a key development initiative in the Global South. This is particularly important for questions of gender relationships, as the majority of microcredit recipients worldwide are low-income women. However, most assessments of microcredit and gender emphasize issues of individual empowerment rather than the large-scale political implications of credit provision. In this article, I critique the use of mainstream empowerment models employed in the assessment of microcredit's ability to provoke changes in gender relationships. I argue that these models often fail to describe microcredit's effects on women's lives due to their epistemological framework, which pushes aside questions of geographical and historical specificity in pursuit of a universally empowered microcredit subject. Examining a mainstream empowerment model I used to conduct research in rural Mexico, I highlight these problems and present an alternative analysis of subjectivity, agency, and gender change as a result of microcredit provision.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Geography,University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,NC, USA
Publication date: June 1, 2012