Description: Microfinance programs, by providing financial services to economically disadvantaged individuals, generally women, are intended to help poor self-employ and become financially independent. Earlier research in India has documented both positive and negative consequences of microfinance programs on women, from financial independence to domestic abuse. However, most of the research has been geographically limited to the southern states of the country, with a matured microfinance industry, and has given little attention to how variations in cultural practices across different regions of the country may influence the impact of microfinance programs on its members. To fill the gap in the existing literature, three related studies of Indian women were conducted. The first study was a qualitative study of 35 women engaged in microfinance programs in the northern region of India. The study found that women engaged in microfinance programs reported having increased social networks, higher confidence and increased social awareness. The second and third studies used nationally representative data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) 2005-2006. Controlling for a variety of other individual-level and community-level characteristics, the second study examined if getting a microloan affected women’s access to public spaces, and the third examined if getting such a loan influenced married women’s participation in household decision-making. Both studies further investigated if the microloan effect on these dimensions of women’s empowerment varied by the normative context of woman’s respective communities. The results indicated that, all else equal, women who had ever taken a microloan were more likely to go alone to places outside their home such as market, health clinics and places outside the community compared to women who had never taken such a loan. Getting a microloan also had a positive effect on women’s participation in decisions about large household purchases and husband’s earnings. The hypothesized moderating effect of the normative ...
Date: December 2014
Creator: Singh, Swati
Item Type: Thesis or Dissertation