Microfinance and Gender Equality: Are We Getting There?

This paper is written in conjunction with and drawing on the paper entitled: ‘“Just the Facts, Ma’am”: Gender Stories from Unexpected Sources with Morals for Microfinance’ written by Susy Cheston for the Microcredit Summit 2006. Cheston’s paper does not focus on the issue of how microfinance contributes to gender equality, but directs readers to useful material that has ably covered this topic since the Campaign commissioned reporting on women empowering in 2002, and particularly the paper in the book Pathways Out of Poverty1 or on the Microfinance Gateway.2 Cheston’s paper rides on the recognition of women as a market to be served and as a force in the development of their own communities. She attempts to go beyond this to address a series of questions: How well do we “see” this previously invisible market? Do we believe that it’s truly worth serving and that it can be a profitable market? And do we know the market as well as we should in order to serve it well?

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