SUSTAINABLE MICRO-FINANCE for WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT WAYS FORWARD
GOALDevelopmental sustainabilityof skills, livelihoods, empowerment and equality REDEFINING SUSTAINABILITY “dynamic and cumulative progress towards development goals “ Women’s empowerment can increase long-term financial, organizational and developmental sustainability • Increasing revenue • Cutting costs • Separation of financial andnon-financial accounts Short-term financial sustainability strategies may undermine developmental and organizational sustainability and longer term financial sustainability Financial sustainability which enables a development organization or intervention to continue without external funds. Costs of inefficiencypassed onto clients • Financial sustainability • Diversifying sources of external funds to ensure developmental sustainability. Lack of cost-effective service integration Organizational sustainability of MFI, NGO, groups, networks, associations or professional organizations set up Upmarket drift Interests of the MFI/donors come before those of clients
GENDER MAINSTREAMING • A strategy for making women’s concerns and experiences equally integral to the • design, • implementation, • monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs in all political, economic and social spheres. • Its goals are gender equitable development outcomes through ensuring gender equality of opportunity and empowerment of women as well as men. It involves both: • Mainstreaming gender considerations in priorities, policies and programs to ensure equality of opportunity • Explicit empowerment strategies targeting women as participants and/or beneficiaries. • Strategies targeting men as supporters of change
GOAL AND VISION: GENDER EQUITY OF OUTCOMES WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT Goal in itself and means to gender equity ORGANISATION and NETWORKINGFORCHANGE GENDER STRATEGY FOR MICRO-FINANCE:KEY ELEMENTS SERVICES PARTICIPATION POLICY ADVOCACY PRODUCTS INTERNAL GENDER POLICY EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY: Goal in itself and means to gender equity
Coherent organizational empowerment vision in all advertising and promotion and staff/client interactions with women and men. Explicit empowerment strategies for addressing gendered resource and power inequalities within households and communities Explicit strategies for the most disadvantaged women PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT EQUITYof Outcomes EQUALITY of Opportunity, power and resources women’s equal accessto micro-finance as a human right and an integral part of any mainstream regulatory and policy framework mainstream women’s concerns reproductive work, intra-household relations and informal sector not treated as ‘women’s projects’ but integral parts of any ‘economic’ intervention from ‘women’ to’ gender’: requires not only strategies targeting women but also gender strategies targeting men
Collateral requirements Application procedures Large versus small Directed versus non-directed Interest rates and repayment schedules Gender equality ensure that access and delivery conditions for all products do not explicilty or implictly discriminate against women LOANS PRODUCT DESIGNFrom Access to Empowerment Economic empowerment: maximise women’s ability to increase and control incomes and resources NEW PRODUCTS Pensions Insurance Increased well-being: create incentives for men to contribute to household well-being SAVINGS Social and political empowerment products which enable women and men to challenge and change gender roles Minimum deposit Voluntary or compulsory Easy access or fixed deposit
In Grameen Bank assets purchased with loans must be registered in women's names. These include assets like rickshaws and house sites where loans are used for land mortgage or housing improvement. In Cameroon Gatsby Trust women preferred fixed rate interest which they could calculate themselves. GOOD PRODUCT EXAMPLES In a CARE India workshop participants proposed an income generating loan for unmarried girls to give them an asset to take on marriage and also help delay marriage by giving a means of earning an income. In CODEC in Bangladesh fishworker women preferred declining balance repayments because it enabled them to immediately pay back any money they earned and prevent this being diverted into other purposes by their husbands.They also preferred explicit direction of loans to production.
ADVOCACY AND LOBBYING • Microfinance regulation to include consideration ofwomen’s property rights and anti-discriminationrequirements etc in wording of regulation • Lobbying forlocal level service provisionto prioritise women’s needs • Gender advocacy forwomen’s rights, eg land and property rights • EMPOWERMENT VISION • Empowerment imagesin offices and promotional literature eg calendars and posters on walls, literature for visitors to read while are waiting. • Micro-finance information and advertisingto promote positive images of women and women’s economic activities MAINSTREAMING INNON-FINANCIAL SERVICES BDS • skills and entrepreneurship trainingto upgrade women’s skills and enable women to enter ‘male’ activities through outreach, training content and methods • marketing supportto include assistance for women to get market registration and marketing experience and skills • CORE MICRO-FINANCE SERVICES • Products which not only increase access but also empowerment • Application processto help women and men think strategically through their economic activities and use of micro-finance. • Savings and credit training for women and mento use examples and methods which empower women • Organizational trainingtolink women with women’s rights organizations and include confidence training • WELFARE SERVICESLiteracy programmesto promote positive images of women and women’s role • Health programmesto include reproductive health and rights • Childcare support and measures to save time in domestic workeg improved stoves, water supply, fuel to be treated as priority household services rather than marginalised as ‘women’s issues’
In CODEC gender issues are integrated throughout ‘human development training’ delivered by extension workers at the savings and credit meetings.This has been very effective in encouraging men to address issues of domestic violence and abandonment of women. INTEGRATED TRAINING:CODEC and KRC, Uganda Gender training integrated into technical agriculture training for both men and women around sustainable livelihoods – you cannot have sustainable livelihoods Without sustainable households. This has led to increased cooperation between women and men, men doing more of the household work, decreased alcoholism and less mistrust around HIV/AIDS.
CROSS-SUBSIDY FROM OTHER PARTS OF THE PROGRAMME Better off women and men paying for training. Group funds. COLLABORATION/INTER-ORGANISATIONAL LINKAGES Linking with other service providers eg women’s legal aid, training, gender research. Networking with other organizations challenging gender inequality, including women’s own grassroots organizations and those of men. Ongoing links with local and international donors to subsidise particular types of activity. PARTICIPATION:BUILDING ON GROUPSNetworking members to provide services and training to each otherGroup run income generation projects for example marriage advice and networking for those households within the programme who agree not to take dowry. • GENDER-SPECIFIC SERVICES • Women’s rights training and information services for women and men • Legal aid services for women
CONTRIBUTION TO EMPOWERMENT • Market research • Solidarity groups • Community-level organization • Women’s organizations and federations OPPORTUNITIES: • BEST BUSINESS PRACTICEThe client knows best • Flexibility to local conditions • Learning organization • Performance monitoring • Unleashing the creativity of staff PARTICIPATION: OPPORTUNITIES, CHALLENGES AND QUESTIONS What sorts of participation? MYTHSOf course our programme is totally participatory – it is group-based Our women are really empowered – they now come out to group meetings! • CHALLENGES • potential costs for women themselves in terms of time and resources. • lack of skills and expertise for participation at the grassroots, within programmes and donor agencies. • lack of resources and commitment from those who would be challenged by increasing participation and empowerment, including donors and programmes themselves. Who is to participate? When? At what levels? Are groups just an administrative convenience to reduce administration costs? Does time spent in micro-finance groups detract from other social or political activities KEY QUESTIONS
GROUP FUNCTION • Do groups facilitate information exchange? • Does group structure increase women’s decision- making and negotiation skills? for which women? • Are women equally represented in group structures at all levels of programme, particularly beyond primary groups? • Do groups undertake collective action for change? • Do structures exist for linking micro-finance groups with other services for women and with movements challenging gender subordination? • GROUP STRUCTURES • Does group size increase women’s collective strength? Are groups too large? Are they too small? • Does group composition extend or merely replicate women’s existing networks? • Do groups discriminate against particularly disadvantaged women eg very poor women, younger women, women from particular ethnic groups? • Are there ways of involving men to build support for women’s initiatives but without them dominating proceedings? QUESTIONINGPARTICIPATION • WHAT TYPE OF PARTICIPATION? • membership? giving access to micro-finance services • contribution?to enhance sustainability of programmes • resources (eg savings), • time and skills (eg for group meetings) • decision-making? • consultation through eg PRA exercises • influencethrough structures for representation • controlthrough ownership of group and/or programme assets • organization? • group formation at local level • wider mobilisation • AND WHAT ABOUT MEN?
BUILDING ON GROUPS: CHANGING GENDER RELATIONS In CODEC, men and women are organised into single-sex groups which are then part of mixed-sex Federations. The gender policy supports women’s equal representation in leadership at this level. The combination of separate discussion spaces for women has meant issues like domestic violence or unjust divorce can be raised. These cases are then taken by the women’s leaders and discussed in the mixed meetings, with support by programme staff.
CREDIT PROGRAMMEgender mainstreamingpoverty targeted Learning forEmpowermentAgainstPoverty SUDAN PARTICIPATORY ACTION LEARNING WOMEN’S CENTRES NETWORKING
ANANDI is an Indian NGO promoting women’s empowerment. in tribal and other marginalised communities in Gujarat. It promotes participatory structures for women’s empowerment at different levels: ANANDI, India Over 3000 women are members of self help groups federated into ‘sangathans’ which now plan and manage some of their own activities including savings and credit, emergency and disaster rehabilitation, health, food security, livelihoods and locallobbying. Training in non-traditional occupations backed by organizational support to help the women workers Participatory Action Learning designed to maximise contribution to women’s empowerment. Combined with research studies on gender equity issues within different arenas/fields. Area networking of rural women leaders and group representatives in ‘melas’ or fairs to exchange experiences and develop collective plans to enable them to engage in dialogue with the state and civil society. ANANDI is an active member of the various state NGO networks.