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The effects of microfinance programs on women members in traditional societies

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One of the stated goals of microfinance programs is to increase the bargaining power of women within the household. However, little is known about other ways women in patriarchal communities may be affected by these programs. This study assessed the effects of the membership in a microfinance joint liability group (MJLG) on the lives and social networks of its women members by focusing on the interplay of MJLG practices and gendered cultural practices such as ‘purdah’ (veiling of the face). Using in-depth interviews of 35 women in Lucknow, a city in northern India, the study found that, overall, respondents who were members of an MJLG reported developing new and stronger relationships with other members of the group. These social interactions were found to be deeper among women who were using the microloans for self-employment than among women who were redirecting their loan funds to other family members. The study also found that the adaptability of microfinance organizations to the local culture appeared to enable women to join MJLGs with ease and to contribute economically to their families.
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Keywords: Indian women; cualitativo; gender norms; microfinance; microfinanzas; mujeres indias; normas de género; qualitative; redes sociales; social networks; sociology; sociología

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX,76203, USA

Publication date: February 7, 2015

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