1.0 Introduction to the study
This chapter introduces the study of the women development fund and women empowerment in Wedza district. It also highlighted the background of the study where the problem came from. Objectives of the research and questions which the research wants to address are also highlighted as well as the meanings of keys terms of the research. The chapter also includes the rationale and limitations of the study which involves the challenges faced by the researcher during the research period. To add on, this chapter will also discuss the delimitation of the study by showing the boundaries of the research area. Literature review, ethical consideration, objectives of the study and methodology are also discussed in this chapter.
1.2 Background to the study
Gender inequalities in every sphere of life are not the same to Zimbabwe but have been long standing differences worldwide. Gender has been a topical discussion in our country and many other countries around the world. Hence, in order to reduce gender inequalities the United Nations (UN) organised conferences in Mexico (1975), Copenhagen(1980), Nairobi(1985) (Gudhlanga and Chirimuuta, 2012). All these conferences were organised in order to empower women and women rights on international level. However, with all these efforts women remain poor as compared to men. This is in line with the study carried by CESO which states that 70% of the 1.2 billion people living on less than a dollar per day are women and girls. This was also supported by CIDA by saying that six out of ten of the world’s poorest people are women and girls. These differences are there because most families and communities unpaid duties are under the shoulders of women hence there is high levels of economic differences between a male and a female. This was also supported by CESO by saying 58% of all the unpaid work globally were done by women.
In order to eradicate gender disparities in economic, social and political spheres, the government of Zimbabwe passed several acts like the legal age of majority act of 1982. According to Mahlaune (1995) the act stated that women are no longer minors. Equal pay act of 1982 also states that women were to be employed to do the same job as men does and equal payments between female and male counterparts. The government was also the signatory to a number of international treaties that creates an enducive environment for the attainment of equity and equality between males and females. These treaties includes the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the SADC ministerial declaration of 2007 which stated that women should constitute 30% of decision making positions by 2005 and reversed to 50% by 2015(Gudhlanga, 2011).
The government of Zimbabwe came up with the National Gender policy in September 2000, with the overall goal of mainstreaming gender into the national development process. According to Chinyani (2007) the transformation was in line with the developments at global level from women in development (WID) to gender and development (GAD). Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) also complemented the government efforts by advocating for gender equality in the all sectors of life. According to Mhishi and Kapingura (2012), culture in Zimbabwe depicts that women are pivotal in sustaining family livelihood, hence supporting women means supporting the families but they are still disadvantaged and mistreated in terms of access to credit and other financial resources. Financial institutions and other formalised money lenders require collateral security in order for one to acquire loan hence this side-lines most women in terms of acquiring loans. Again most women are illiteracy which is another challenge that chased away women from accessing soft loans.
The government of Zimbabwe introduced women development fund (WDF) through the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development (MoWAGCD) in order to assist women who are into business and those who wants to start their projects. This was done through the use of Marxist theory which states that women empowerment can only be achieved through radical restructuring of the capitalist economy were modes of production were owned by women. The National Gender Policy (2013 – 2017) stipulates that Zimbabwe recognises that economic growth programmes that target women. As such, the economic empowerment of women has become a key priority for the Government of Zimbabwe to achieve sustainable economic growth. Further to that, the policy stresses that notable progress towards women’s economic empowerment include among others, establishment of a Women’s Fund, launched in 2010, and supported by Treasury .
Although the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development’s budget allocation has been always less than 1% of the National Budget, the ministry has made attempts to empower women. It has disbursed more than US$2 million of funds to women group projects in the ten provinces: US$ 245 000 was disbursed in 2013; US$350 000 in 2014; and US$300 000 was allocated but not disbursed in 2016. In 2017 the Treasury allocated US$ 600 000 to the revolving fund under WDF and has not been released. Micro-finance, including micro-credits, which women development fund facility provides, is considered an instrument that promotes effective women empowerment. Experience, according to UNDP, however, has shown that giving women micro-finance credits is not a silver bullet. Whilst it can stabilise livelihoods, broaden choices, provide start-up funds for productive investment, help poor people send children to school, it can also lead to indebtedness and increased exclusion unless programmes are well-designed. Providing supplementary services, such as training, working through groups rather than individuals, or alongside other investments, has been shown to increase women’s direct control over resource. To graduate women’s income-generating activities from survival level into strong and viable businesses, women need access to the full range of credit, banking and financial services and facilities, essential to fully develop their productive assets. The aim of WDF was to empower and capacitate the women by providing collateral free loans. This research is aimed at assessing the effectiveness of WDF in empowering women by assessing its impacts on poverty alleviation of women in wedza district, ward 4, 5, 6 and 15.
1.3 Statement of the problem
Empowering women through women development fund resulted to uplifting of recognition that women in Zimbabwe and wedza district among other districts lack access to and control over resources and lack of participation in decision making process. As a result of that the government of Zimbabwe introduces the policies in order to enhance the empowerment and gender equality but yet still gender inequality remains a challenge that is taking Zimbabwe far from development aspect. This why the researcher wants to assess the effectiveness of women development fund in poverty reduction and gender inequality in wedza district.
1.4 Aim of the study
.To assess the impact of women development fund toward poverty alleviation and women empowerment in Wedza District.
1.5 objectives of the study
-The study seeks to:
i. Establish the limitations of the women development fund towards the empowerment of women in wedza district.
ii. To find out the contribution of women development fund towards women empowering women in wedza district.
iii. Establish the benefits derived by members from participating in women development fund programmes in wedza district.
iv. To examine the operations of women development fund in wedza district.
1.5 Research questions
.What are the impacts of women development fund in poverty alleviation of women in wedza district?
.what is the status of women projects still viable after financed?
.what are the benefits derived by women in participating in women development fund?
.what are the challenges faced in administering and repayment of loan as well as gender equality through WDF in wedza district?
1.6.0 Definition of key terms
Microfinance is defined by Otero (1999) as the provision of financial services to low income poor and very poor self-employed people. Schreiner and Colombet (2001) share a similar view when they view micro financing as an attempt to improve access to small deposits and loans for poor households neglected by the banks and other formal financial institutions. Christen (1997) define microfinance as “the means of providing a variety of financial services to the poor based on market driven and commercial approaches”. Scholars who have conducted studies across the globe argue that microfinance has played a positive role in empowering women and alleviating poverty. A case in point is the work by Amin and Pebley (1994) in Bangladesh which showed that the membership of Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) has had a positive impact on women in decision as well as in gaining control of capital resources.
1.6.2 Gender equality
Refers to both men and women having the freedom to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles, or prejudices. It does not mean that men and women have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities should not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender inequality predominantly impacts negatively on women and girls, as men tend to have more decision-making power and control over resources than women. Because of this, efforts to advance gender equality need to focus primarily on improving the situation and status of women and girls in their societies. Gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both, women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups women and men(for example: women belonging to ethnic minorities, lesbian women or women with disabilities). Gender equality is both, a human rights principle and a precondition for sustainable, people-centred development (adapted from UN Women).
1.6.3 Women empowerment
According to OXFAM’s understanding, women empowerment encompasses aspects of: women’s ability to make decisions and influence, women’s self-perception, women’s personal freedom, women’s access to and control over resources and support from social networks. Empowerment is also related to the process of internal change (Mayoux, 1998) and to the capacity and right to make decisions (Kabeer, 2001). It consist of change, choice and power. It is a process of change by which individuals or groups with little or no power gain the ability to make choices that affect their lives. In the feminist paradigm, empowerment goes beyond economic betterment and well-being to strategic gender interest (Bali-swain, 2006). The focus on women’s empowerment in the context of microfinance brings to light the significance of gender relations in policy development circles more prominently than ever before. Women are vaunted as a weapon against poverty (DFID, 2006).
Poverty is generally defined as the inability to attain a certain predetermined minimum level of consumption at which basic needs of a society or a country are assumed to be satisfied. This can be measured by the level of access to basic goods and services like food, shelter, health care and education. JRF in UK defines poverty as not being able to heat your home, pay your rent, or buy the essentials for your children. It means waking up every day facing insecurity, uncertainty, and impossible decisions about money. It means facing marginalisation and even discrimination because of your financial circumstances. The constant stress it causes can lead to problems that deprive people of the chance to play a full part in society. The evidence suggests that poverty is a multidimensional social phenomenon. Definitions of poverty and its causes vary by gender, age, culture, and other social and economic contexts. For example, in both rural and urban Ghana, men associate poverty with a lack of material assets, whereas for women, poverty is defined as food insecurity. Generational differences emerged as well. Younger men in Ghana consider the ability to generate an income as the most important asset, whereas older men cite as most important the status connected to a traditional agricultural lifestyle (Ghana, 1995).
1.7 Justification of the study.
The research had made a great effort in bringing out a clear vision of the extent to which women development fund (WDF) had managed to empower women as well as gender equality which was left behind by other researchers. Again, the researcher wants to find out why WDF failed to put issues of gender equality at the forefront, so challenges associated with women development fund and his will help the government of Zimbabwe to know about WDF loopholes and areas of improvements in order for it to be a tool to address gender equality and women empowerment. It is the hope of the researcher that this research will highlight the status of women in wedza district.
Furthermore, this research will shed light on the status of gender inequalities in wedza as well as showing the contribution of WDF in upbringing the status of women which was left by previous studies since there are very few literature that have something to say about status of women in wedza district. NGOs and other institutions will also be helped by this study mainly those that provides financial support to women by coming up with strategies that enhance women empowerment and development in all sectors because of having enough information pertaining to women empowerment. Also this research findings are very important for academic purposes through referencing by other researchers who wants to undergo the same study.
1.8 Delimitations of the study
The area under study is wedza district in Mashonaland East province which is about 128 km from Harare going to Sadza growth point in Chikomba district. Wedza district has got fifteen wards, therefore, the researcher chose only four wards that is 1 in growth point which is ward 15, 1 in resettlement area that is ward 4 and lastly 1 in communal area which is ward 5 and 6. Ministry of women affairs, gender and community development which is now known as ministry of women and youth affairs personnel that is DDO, 4 WDCs for the respective wards, CDO as well as POSB personnel who were responsible for the disbursement of funds and repayment.
1.9 Limitations of the study
The researcher had met some limitations in carrying out the research and some of them are as follows: WGF beneficiaries were not willing to disclose some of the information in fear of the unknown and also for confidentiality purposes. To overcome this the researcher should provide assurance that the information provided by them should be treated with confidentiality and follow ups were conducted to participants who were given questionnaires. Language became a barrier since questionnaires are structured in English hence participants faced some challenges in understanding English because of being illiterate. As a solution of this issue, the researcher were to use simple and straight forward English and also the researcher were to give instructions on how to respond to questionnaires or even translating to those who do not understand English or let the participants to respond using their mother language.
In short, this chapter highlighted various issues that form the basis of the study. These includes the background of the study, statement of the problem, aim and objectives of the study, research questions, delimitations, limitations and justification of the study.
2.0 Literature review
Bless and Smith (1997) and Leedy (1980), suggest the benefits of reviewing secondary and the purpose of review of existing data is one or a combination of the following: sharpen and deepen the theoretical framework of the research that is to study the different theories related to the research topic. Data can be reviewed from primary and secondary sources. For example, from the original person who is experiencing the problem as primary source and from the reading published books, journal to mention just a few that are relevant to the research topic.
Msabila and Nalaila (2013) supported that a researcher read reports of other relevant studies conducted by different researchers, hence a researcher got knowledge and experience that were established by other researchers when conducting their studies, and thereafter the researcher critically looked at variables , theories used, types of data collected, research objectives and many others which led to the establishing the flaws in the previous researches and hence devised better ways of addressing the research gaps and established an idea. In this case the researcher reviewed what has been said by other scholars pertaining to WDF and women empowerment.
2.2 Women Development Fund in Zimbabwe (WDF).
The concept of women economic empowerment and gender equality are important component of sustainable and socially equitable development. WDF has always been at the core of women economic empowerment programmes in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole. UN development fund for women (UNIFEM) was established in 1976 in conjunction with the United Nations Decade for women (1976-85), aimed at giving financial and technical assistance. WDF is critical in promoting women economic empowerment and financial inclusion and this increases women’s access to economic resources, job opportunities, financial services and properties.
The national gender policy (2013) stipulates that Zimbabwe recognises that economic growth programmes that are specifically for women. Hence, the economic empowerment of women has become a key priority for the government of Zimbabwe to achieve sustainable economic growth. More so, the policy stresses that notable progress towards women’s economic empowerment which resulted to the establishment of WDF in 2010 supported by treasury of Zimbabwe. Even though, the budget for the ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development allocation was always less than 1%, the ministry had made efforts to empower women through the disbursement of more than two million dollars to empower projects in all ten (10) provinces of Zimbabwe.
Looking at Africa as a continent, African Union member states had launched African Women Development Fund in 2010 that finance local, national, sub regional and regional organisations working towards the empowerment of women through support of initiatives led by African women. According to Buckley (2014), NEPAD Spanish Fund for African women empowerment was set in 2007 with the mandate of empowering African women with financial resources to unlock their economic potential, create wealth and contribute to the achievement of MDGs. The introduction of WDF around the world shows the commitment of countries to achieve women empowerment and gender equality through the provision of funds which also Zimbabwe is one of those countries.
2.3 Objectives of WDF in Zimbabwe.
The reason behind WDF is to give soft loans to women in business as a way of empowering them economically and uplift projects as well as to improve the standards of living of women. According to Furguson (2011), women development fund is there to provide soft loans to women with low income so as to enable them to start small scale income generating projects, to create empowerment opportunities among women especially those in informal sector, to encourage women to save their income in order to increase their capital so as to invest in other business interventions and to be collateral fund as it has been insisted by the third millennium development goal(MDG 3) that is gender equality and women empowerment.
2.4 Source of fund
The ministry of women affairs, gender and community development created a women development fund to finance income generating projects for women. The national machinery’s 2013 budget voted to allocate the fund us$2, 3 million compared to us$3 million in 2012 budget and us$2 million in 2011 budget vote. Legislators allocated some us$8, 5 million to the fund in 2010 to 2013 by the national treasury, but only us$2 697 370 or 30 percent of the allocation amount, has been released to operate the fund in the ten provinces. The fund received no funds from treasury in 2012 and 2013. The parliamentary portfolio committee of MoWAGCD called for an increase in the 2015 national budget to the WDF and further called on treasury to expedite the actual releases of funds allocated to the fund beginning in January 2015(report of MoWAGCD, 2014). The purpose of the fund was to provide lines of credit to finance viable women to run business projects with no collateral security being demanded through POSB.
2.5 Beneficiaries of the WDF
Women Development Fund were introduced targeting women who are into small business and form groups with a membership of three to five at first in 2010 -11 and in 2012 a membership of five to ten were required to apply. This is a revolving fund so beneficiaries were forced to pay back the loan so that others will benefit. Application of loan as a group was used as a way of guarantee each other since these women do not have collateral security. Hence if other member fails to repay the loan the group members will pay the instalment. An interest of 10% per year were charged to a group member on top of the loan they have applied and repayment plan is for the year, hence monthly instalments were deposited to POSB by the group members after collecting the full amount required that month. Kabeer (2002) described that, the MDGs on gender equality and women’s empowerment adopted on increase in women’s share of non-agricultural employment as one of the indicators of women’s empowerment.
Msirikale (1996) explained that, WDF is disbursed basing on group of women that acts as partnership that prepares agreement (deed) which spells out the rights and duties of the partners, and partnership several advantages; provides a convenient way of introducing “new blood” in the business such that the new members bring in the variety of abilities, talents, skills and ideas. Additional capital may be easily obtained from members, some degree of specialization is possible since ordinary partners with different skills take part in the management of the business.
For Sen (1993), empowerment is reflected in a person’s capability set. The ‘capability ‘of a person depends on a variety of factors, including personal characteristics and social arrangements. Empowerment is the capacity to fulfil this capability and not just the choice to do so. Sen’s view on women’s empowerment is indicated in his discussion on measurement of empowerment (Sen, 1990). According to him, the focus should be on certain universally valued functioning, which relate to the basic fundamentals of survival and well-being regardless of context. These include proper nourishment, good health and shelter. If there are systematic gender differences in these very basic functioning achievements, they can be taken as evidence of inequalities in the underlying capabilities, rather than as differences in preferences.
Empowerment is also related to the process of internal change (Mayoux, 1998) and to the capacity and right to make decisions (Kabeer, 2001). It consists of change, choice and power. It is a process of change by which individuals or groups with little or no power gain the ability to make choices that affect their lives. The structures of power directly affect the choices that women are able to make in their lives (Mayoux, 2001). In the feminist paradigm, empowerment goes beyond economic betterment and well-being to strategic gender interests (Bali-Swain, 2006). Empowerment can exist at an individual level, where it is about having an agency, increased autonomy, choice, self-confidence and self-esteem. It can also exist at a collective level that would include collective mobilization of women, and when possible men, for the purpose of questioning and changing the subordination connected with gender. Personal and collective empowerment are intrinsically linked because without the latter, the former becomes circumscribed (Sen, 1990).
Another view of women’s empowerment argues that it needs to occur in multiple dimensions: economic, sociocultural, familial or interpersonal, legal, political and psychological (Malhotra et al, 2002). These dimensions cover a broad range of factors, and thus women may be empowered within one of these subdomains. For instance, the sociocultural dimension covers a range of empowerment subdomains, such as marriage systems, norms regarding women’s physical mobility, non-familial social support systems and networks available to women. Social capital, social networks, the capacity to make effective life and community development choices are all related to empowerment (Krishna and Grootaert, 2003).
According to Kabeer (1999) empowerment is about the ability to make strategic life choices, and constitutes three dimensions: (a) resources: defined broadly to include not only access, but also future claims to material, human and social resources;(b) agency: including processes of decision-making and less-measurable manifestations of agency such as negotiation, deception and manipulation; and (c) achievements: that is well-being outcomes.
World Bank defines empowerment as “the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices, and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. Central to this process are actions that build both individual and collective assets, and improve the efficiency and fairness of the organizational and institutional context which govern the use of these assets. “In the policy circle, it identifies four key elements of empowerment for drafting institutional reforms: (a) access to information; (b) inclusion and participation; (c) accountability; and (d) local organizational capacity (World Bank 2001). According to UNIFEM (2000), women’s empowerment consists of “gaining the ability to generate choices and exercise bargaining power … developing a sense of self-worth, a belief in one’s ability to secure desired changes, and the right to control one’s life.”
One major point of debate with regard to empowerment is its measurement. Measurement becomes important because of its policy significance. According to Malhotra and et al (2002), although empowerment has been identified as a primary development goal, neither the World Bank nor any other major development agency has developed a rigorous method for measuring and tracking changes in levels of empowerment. Some of the key methods that research has used to measure empowerment include the Gender Development Index (GDI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), quantitative surveys, ethnographic investigations, focus group discussions and case studies. Control is commonly used as a measure of empowerment. Scholars have also suggested resources, agency and achievements, and not just access, as ways to measure empowerment (Kabeer, 1999). It is also agreed that certain key measures of empowerment such as decision-making, self-confidence and self-esteem are very difficult to measure (Cheston and Kuhn, 2002). In the context of this research, the researcher were mainly focus on political, sociocultural, economic, legal and psychological empowerment triggered by women development fund.
2.7 Women empowerment
The focus on women’s empowerment in the context of microfinance brings to light the significance of gender relations in policy development circles more prominently than ever before. Women are used as a ‘weapon against poverty’ (DFID, 2006). The rationale for providing women access to microfinance services is that gender inequalities inhibit economic growth and development (World Bank and et al). Hence, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provides “increased access to productive assets especially land, capital, and credit, processing, and marketing for women” (CIDA, 1999).
Critics of the development perspective argue that the policy development approach to empowerment is extremely instrumental. As Cornwall and Edward (2010) put it, “women’s empowerment is heralded as a means that can produce extraordinary ends… their empowerment extolled as the solution to a host of entrenched social and economic problems. The predominant image of empowerment in development is that of women gaining means to empower themselves as individuals, and putting this to the service of their families and communities.” This is primarily because empowerment is understood in relation to deliberate and planned interventions such as electoral quotas, education, economic empowerment initiatives, legislative change and non-governmental public action.
The alternative perspective emphasizes that women’s empowerment emerges as a result of cultural, economic and other changes, such as the availability of new technologies in their lives for example, mobile phones and satellite television; secondly, as women’s current opportunities and constraints; and lastly, as a process in time, across generations (Cornwall and Edwards, 2010). Since the context of women’s lives matters and the same interventions are not effective everywhere, most of the policies remain ineffective (Abdullah and et al, 2010). The experiences of empowerment and disempowerment are related not just material means and interventions, but also to social relationships (Kabeer et al, 2010), narratives (Priyadarshani and Rahim, 2010), voice (Goetz and Musembi, 2008), choice (Kabeer, 2008) and negotiations (Huq and Johnson, 2010).
In the poverty alleviation paradigm, women’s empowerment is seen as an external imposition by a Western influenced middle-class feminist elite, with little relevance to the needs of poor women. It is also seen as politically sensitive and involving conflicts within households and communities that may undermine organizational sustainability.” Both paradigms perceive conflicts between women’s empowerment and development aims. Thus the feminist paradigm where the central concern lies in promoting gender equality and human rights has been emphasized as an effective route to women’s empowerment through microfinance institutions.
Although microfinance programmes adhere to the latter two paradigms, there are arguments on why MFIs should adopt empowerment approaches: Firstly, microfinance practices do not always produce automatic empowerment benefits for women; therefore, empowerment must be strategically planned for in MFIs. Secondly, empowerment approaches allow microfinance institutions to realize their full potential in contributing to a number of critical dimensions of women’s empowerment. Finally, empowerment approaches are often compatible with other approaches to microfinance for example, financial sustainability and can actually enhance the aims of these other approaches in many cases. Mayoux (2006), an agenda of targeting women for loan access, and detaching the empowerment aspect, will thus be an anti-poverty strategy that is not only rationally unmusical, but also morally incomprehensible. For this reason, the agenda for MFIs should be to develop useful linkages between the functions of MFIs and their empowering potential.
2.7.0 Dimensions of empowerment
Empowerment have got multiple dimension to look at, so in this case only five or six dimensions of empowerment were looked at. These were also supported by Malhotra and et al (2002), who argues that women’s empowerment needs to occur in multiple dimensions that is economic, sociocultural, political, legal, familial/interpersonal and psychological. These cover a broad range of factors and thus women may be empowered within one of the subdomains.
2.7.1 Economic empowerment
Economic empowerment is the crying need of this hour. “Wage employment means economic power” (Elliott, 2008). Through employment women earn money and it enables women and girls to become ‘bread earners’, contributing members of households with a strong sense of their own economic independence. “Economic empowerment is a powerful tool against poverty” (Biswas, 2010). The Djakarta Declaration (1994), critically examines that, “empowerment of women is not only equal consideration; it was a necessary precondition for sustainable economic and social development.”
Without economic self-sufficiency other rights and scopes remain meaningless to the people. Economic empowerment can be described as a means by which the poor, landless, deprived and oppressed people of all societies can be freed from all kinds of deprivation and oppression; can directly enjoy the benefits from markets as well as household; can easily manage a square nutritious food and fulfil basic requirements such as house, cloth, medicine and pure water to mention a few. Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has emphasized on the economic empowerment of women. It holds that raising voice and visibility is not possible unless there is an access “to the ownership of economic resources by the poor women.”
Kapur (2001), observes that, “women’s empowerment could be described as a process in which women gain greater share of control over resources material, human and intellectual like knowledge, information, ideas and financial resources like money and access to money and control over decision making in the home, community, society and nation, and to gain power.” Economic empowerment gains through equal work opportunities, equal organizational benefits, equal treatments and equal working environment.
Self Employed Women’s Association (SWEA), argues for women’s empowerment through the attainment of full employment and self-reliance of poor and rural exploited women. It holds that, “When there is a woman’s income, there is security of work; she has assets in her name, she feels economically strong, independent and autonomous”. The term ’empowerment’ has also been defined by Singh (ibid). She envisages that, “Empowerment is a process of change by which individuals or groups gain power and ability to take control over their lives.” In economic development, the empowerment approach focuses on mobilizing the self-help efforts of the poor, rather than providing them with social welfare.
2.7.2 Sociocultural empowerment
Social Empowerment refers to the enabling force that strengthens women’s social relations and their position in social structures. Social empowerment addresses the social discriminations existing in the society based on disability, race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Empowerment as a methodology is often associated with feminism. Broadly put, the term empowerment is defined as “a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, their communities and in their society, by acting on issues they define as important” (Retrieved from http://www.joe.org/joe/1999october/comm1.php).
A nearly similar definition has been given by Antony (2006). She considers that, “Empowerment of women is a multi-dimensional process, which should enable the individuals or a group of individuals to realize their full identity and powers in all spheres of life.” Empowerment of women means enjoyment of equal rights, equal status and freedom of self-development with men. Antony quoted Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR, in one of her articles. Gorbachevo pined that, “The status of women is a barometer of the democratic of any state, an indicator of how human rights are respected in it” (ibid).From a sociological point of view, Gangrade (2001), has extended a definition of empowerment. He considers women’s empowerment as “… equal status to women opportunity and freedom to develop herself.” Women are exploited in almost every society. Srivastava (2001), observes women’s empowerment from the perspective of their vulnerability to various kinds of exploitations. He envisages that it is necessary to “empowering women socially, economically and politically so that they can break away from male domination and claim equality with them.”
Health is another important factor for achieving total development of human beings. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a positive health status is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (Kurukshetra, 2002.). Mira Shiva (2001) feels, “Women’s empowerment means that women no matter where they are healthy, have enough for their needs, their own survival and that of their family and community, to be able to live with dignity, live and work in safe and caring environment, which allows their growth and holistic development that is, physically, emotionally, socially, economically.”
Legal experts and lawyers have viewed and analysed women’s empowerment from their own perspectives. The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations emphasizes upon the member states “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women” (Levin and Leah, 2002). Manohar (2001) defines women’s empowerment in this respect as “The key to women’s empowerment is recognition and enforcement of women’s human rights.” In the light of ‘equality before the law’ and ‘equal protection of the law,’ the legal experts want to bring down all kinds of legal discrimination against women. Without the establishment of women’s legal rights and human social order women’s real empowerment will be a distant dream. Empowerment of women has been defined by Griffin (1987), as “being able to make a contribution at all levels of society and not just in the home. Power also means having women’s contribution recognized and valued.”
“Traditional concepts recognize higher education as an instrument of personal development. It helps in growing an individual’s intellectual horizons, wellbeing and potential for empowerment” (Kurukshetra, 2012). It is considered as the single most important instrument of socio-political and economic transformation. But the picture of women’s educational empowerment is not rosy in India. “The recently released United Nations Development Report (2011) ranked India as 134 out of 187countries” (Kurukshetra, 2012). Without proper education to all children including girls, gender empowerment is not possible. This maxim if one male child is literate personally he alone becomes educated but if one girl child is educated the whole family becomes benefited has been realized by the national political leaders, policy makers, administrators and bureaucrats.
In this regard Rao (2001) considers that, “The most important thing is that women need to be given free and compulsory education so as to make them aware of the rights and duties and possible free legal aid so that they can fight their cases without spending money.” An educated mother is a one thousand fold superior to a mere lecturer. Education creates self-confidence, self-esteem, self-sufficiency to a person. It brings light of hope; increases social, political, intellectual, cultural and religious consciousness; broadens the length of mind; removes all kinds of bigotry, narrowness, superstition and enhances fellow-feeling, tolerance to mention a few.
Devendra (2001), stresses the importance of health, education and self-esteem of women.
Devendra feels, “Empowerment of women would mean equipping women to be economically independent, self-reliant, have a positive self-esteem to enable them to face any difficult situation and they should be able to participate in developmental activities.” Devendra believes that empowered women will be able to participate in decision-making, policy formulation and implementation of different policies and programs. Education plays a great role in this sphere. Pathak (2003), argues in line with Devendra. He emphasizes that, “Women have to be empowered socially, educationally, politically, economically and culturally.” He further states that, “When literacy percentage is increased, the women could be able to understand their actual rights which have been already given to them by the constitution of India and accordingly the provisions contained in Panchayati Raj itself.”
Information Technology and media are assuming pivotal roles in dissemination of knowledge to the people and bringing the world nearer to one’s reach. In the present day situation it is not possible for any society to think about empowerment without the incorporation and utilization of IT. The outstanding feature of empowerment lies in its very term ‘power.’ Meera and Rao (2003) consider that, “The empowerment process is one where women find time and space of their own, and begin to re-examine their lives critically and collectively.”
Further Shaikh and Rao (ibid) hold that, “Women’s empowerment is a state of being that reflects a certain level of critical consciousness about external realities and an awareness about their internal thought construction and belief systems that affect their wellbeing in terms of gender justice and social justice; as well as the determination to use their physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual resources to protect their lives and sustain values that guarantee gender equality and personal, social, economic, political and institutional level.” Professor Mukhopadhyaya (2003), discusses the term ’empowerment’ in a broader perspective. In her opinion, the person who has no power has to be empowered. According to her opinion, “Empowerment means freedom from deprivation; empowerment means equal access to knowledge and information; knowledge of being within groups of their own; empowerment also means organization; it means creation of information system and knowledge base.”
Poverty and illiteracy are intertwined with one another. Poor people are mostly uneducated or lowly educated. This mass of uneducated people feels one kind of powerlessness. They feel some invisible forces from outside are controlling their lives. This powerless and inferior attitude creates a sense of intimidation. They began to depend on fortune, luck, destiny and above all God or supernatural elements. With attainment of education and knowledge women can overcome these problems. In this regard Jhabvala (2001) feels that, “Empowerment is the process by which the disempowered or powerless people can change their circumstances and begin to have control over their lives.” It is a process by which the disempowered can change the equation of power, their living conditions and their existing unequal conditions.
2.7.3 Political empowerment
Participation of women in the political field and in various decision-making bodies is an important tool for empowerment. The participation of women at all levels of governance structures is the highest need of this hour for women’s actual empowerment. Brill (2000) holds that, “Without our own voices being heard inside the government areas and halls of public policy and debate, we are without the right to accountability a basic establishment of those who are governed.” In other words, “Empowerment is not giving people power; people already have plenty of power, in the wealth of their knowledge and motivation, to do their jobs magnificently. We define empowerment as letting this power out” (Blanchard & et al, 1996). It encourages people to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow them to overcome obstacles in life or work environment and ultimately, help them develop within themselves or in the society.
Women throughout the world have been struggling to break away the shackle of bond age, subjugation, oppression and all kinds of ill treatment both within and outside of their families. Without bringing them in the corridor of power where they can formulate policies and programs and implement them, the survival of women is very difficult. Rajput (2001) also supports the view. According to Rajput, “Empowerment of women in all spheres, in particular the political sphere is crucial for their advancement and the foundation of a gender equal society. It is central to the achievement of the goals of equality, development and peace.” Without political participation it would be very difficult for women to increase effectiveness, capacity, challenging the existing power structure and patriarchal ideology.
Politics decide who will get what, when and how. Hence, empowering women politically is the highest need of the hour. Women’s political empowerment implies the decentralization of power and authority in the deprived, oppressed and powerless people who have not been able to participate in the decision making processes and implementation of policies and programs of both government organizations as well as familial and societal matters. Tiwari (2001) examines the issue of women’s empowerment in the context of Indian society and feminist women’s liberation approach in the present day environment. He has suggested a few measures for women’s empowerment which “….primarily focus attention on rejecting all restrictions, controls, limitations, values and many others on the ground that these are imposed on women only by patriarchy and are the revelation of male dominance…”
Sharma (1991-92) has rightly pointed out that “the term empowerment refers to range of activities from individual self-assertion to collective resistance, protest and mobilization that challenge basic power relations.” The Country Report of Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) envisages that, “empowerment means moving from a position of enforced powerlessness to one of power. It would promote women’s inherent strength and positive self-image.” Mohanty (1999) feels that the enactment of 73rd and 74th Constitution (Amendment) Acts needs citation are meant for women’s empowerment. Mohanty holds that, “the idea was to facilitate women’s participation in grassroots politics, thereby empowering them to become partners in the decision-making process.”
Narasimhan (1999) expresses her opinion in regard to women’s political empowerment. She opines that the word empowerment means “…. Bringing women into the main-stream of national activity as equal partners alongside men….”The feminist scholar and activist Batliwala (1995) expresses her view of empowerment as “the process of challenging existing power-relations, and of gaining greater control over the sources of power, may be termed as empowerment.” According to Chandra (1997), “Empowerment in its simplest form means the manifestation or re-distribution of power that challenges patriarchal ideology and the male domination.” Gandhi also spoke in favour of women’s empowerment.
According to Bhasin (1998) empowerment means, “recognizing women’s contribution, women’s knowledge; it means helping women fight their own fears, and feeling of inadequacy and inferiority; it means women enhancing their self-respect and self-dignity; it means women controlling their own bodies; it means women becoming economically independent and self-reliant; it means women controlling resources like land and property; it means reducing women’s burden of work, especially within the home; it means creating and strengthening women’s groups and organizations; it means promoting qualities of nurturing, caring, gentleness not just in women but also in men.”
Women’s empowerment is closely related with welfare and their development. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen equates development with freedom, which he thinks, empowers women. The disempowered people should come forward and take active part in the development process. The backwardness of a particular segment of society that is women, is mainly due to their failure to take part in development activities, though the failure is caused mainly by the obstructions put up by the patriarchal society. Also it is equally true that ‘no one can empower any one.’ Real empowerment is possible only by one’s own effort. In this regard Karl says that, “empowerment is a process and is not, therefore, something that can be given to people ….the process of empowerment is both individual and collective, since it is through involvement in groups that people most often begin to develop their awareness and the ability to organize to take action and to bring about change” (Karl, 2002).
Prasad (2002) views that, “Empowerment is a process geared towards participation, greater decision making and transformative action through awareness and capacity building”. Empowerment can otherwise be cited as a multipronged process, which requires pooling of resources to gather power and strength. Since empowerment of women depends largely on their participation in social and political activities, it is necessary to understand the nature of political participation also. Various scholars have defined the term political participation in different ways. But there is a common thread that connects of them. It is closely related with power and it very much exists in democratic societies. Miller holds that, “It is the activity which aims at bringing government to bear in a particular direction, to secure particular results” (Carolyn, 2008, p. 90).
“Political process is the shaping, sharing and exercise of power” (Niroj, 2000, p. 15).By joining politics people feel themselves empowered. It is a ladder for upward mobility in society. It is a route to empowerment for the deprived and the powerless. Through political participation, people find opportunities to change and influence public decisions and to bring them in their favour. They can also protect their self-interest and legitimate rights and promote justice for the common men. Traditionally the concept of politics is related to government structures. But currently the notion of politics is taking a new and different shape. Movements, strikes, protests, demonstrations, struggles, procession to name a few, have become the legitimate expression of political engagement.
Political participation and shouting slogans have grown as the language of influencing and bargaining different decisions and policies of different government and non-government organizations in favour of its participants. But is should be remembered that empowerment of women would never mean the acquirement and use of power and authority by the women to subjugate and dominate their opposite sex or to one group of women by another. That is not desired at all. Women’s empowerment means to distribute equal power and authority between men and women and creating an environment of freedom from domination and suppression. Kapur (2001) has rightly viewed that, “Woman’s empowerment in reality is to empower herself and not overpower men.”
Ramesh (2003) also argues for women’s empowerment. He upholds that, “The empowerment of women concerns women gaining control and power over their own lives. It involves awareness raising, building self-confidence, and expansion of choices, increased access to and control over resources.” But he strongly opposes the idea of empowering women from outside, because he feels it should come out from within. He further highlights that, “As a general definition, however, we suggest that empowerment is a multidimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power in people, for use in their own lives, their communities, and in their society, by acting on issues that they define as important” (ibid).
2.7.4 Psychological empowerment
Through psychological empowerment women not only transgress the traditional and patriarchal taboos and social obligations, they also transform their selves and subjectivities. When women join educational institutions, political parties or decision-making bodies; hold white collar jobs, take decisions and travel different places; occupy land and wealth they feel psychologically powered and build their self-confidence, recognize their self-worth and take control of their own income and body. This joining in any institution and occupation gives them opportunities to see and to know more of the world than those who have stayed behind at home. “This personal growth and exploration has given them self-respect, pride, maturity, and resiliency as they have exerted their independence away from home” (Retrieved from
http://www.joe.org/joe/1999october/comm1.php).This also gives them mental strength, and makes them firm, tough and hardworking. They also learn the art of living and how to adjust with the changed circumstances. Further, it gives them satisfaction in various ways relating to work, living, learning, and adjusting in personal and financial situations.
2.7.5 Legal empowerment
Businesses headed by women contribute to employment, wealth creation and economic growth through their increasing numbers, diversity of activities and diversity of entrepreneurship in the economic process (Hakala, 2008; Manolova et al., 2007). The creativity and talents of women are an invaluable resource, which can and should be developed for both their own self-realisation and society benefit (Kikwasi, 2005; United Nations Industrial Development Organisation UNIDO, 2005; Hodkignson, 2006). Because it was realised in the past decade that women are an important but untapped source of economic growth, the government, non-governmental and international communities have devised several initiatives to economically empower them (URT, 2003; ILO, 2004). Some initiatives directly target women, whereas others are indirect.
There are initiatives through affirmative action to redress inequalities worldwide. Basically, the affirmative actions seek to address historical injustices and act against perceived social imbalances. They are essentially based on the principle of non-discrimination (Verwey, 2005). For example, the USA takes affirmative action to ensure that all people are fairly treated regardless of their ethnic or national difference and seek to eliminate discrimination. The order aims to bring equality to disadvantaged individuals, including women and therefore creates a friendly environment for business start-ups.
In South Africa, past policies and laws deliberately favoured men, particularly white men. As a system of national strategy, affirmative action legislation had to redress the past imbalances that were created by apartheid (Mathur-Helm, 2004). Hence, women’s issues surfaced, such as their rights, equality, welfare and empowerment and the essential measures around these issues started gaining attention. Government policies and legislation have been created in favour of women and with good will. Most of these initiatives have not been successfully implemented for sustainable solutions (Verwey, 2005). The fact is that correct implementation of the strategies relies more on the fairness of the regulations and the legal protection of women’s rights and welfare than on only constitutional implementation and imposition of these policies and strategies.
Tanzania is committed to development policies that promote entrepreneurship in all sectors of the economy to alleviate poverty, generate employment, contribute to the diversity of entrepreneurship and improve competitiveness. The other two main frameworks are the National Poverty Eradication Strategy (NPES) of 2005–2010 and the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) phases I and II; phase I was during 2005-2010. NPES, which envisaged reducing poverty by half by 2010, was built on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1.
The achievements of NSGRP phase I, which ended in 2010, were below targets hence, it was unsuccessful (International Monetary Fund IMF, 2011). NSGRP phase II envisions availing income opportunities across sectors through public investment and empowerment arrangements to introduce equitable participation in the production and sharing of outcomes by 2015. These National policies provide the opportunities for local communities to benefit from entrepreneurship in all sectors of the economy (URT, 2003; URT, 2005). Generally, the policies are not effective because specific measures to address gender-based obstacles to growth and poverty reduction are not identified.
Women in Tanzania are predominantly found in the informal sector; they are driven out of necessity to start entrepreneurial activities and normally enter the micro-level and low-growth sectors, where they encounter strong competition while earning subsistence incomes, particularly in traditionally women related industries, such as service and retail (Rutashobya, 2000; Nchimbi, 2003; Olomi, 2009). As a result, most of their businesses cannot generate new jobs, generate sufficient income and contribute meaningful to the economic development because the lack of exposure and socialisation restrict their ability to identify business ventures with higher growth potential (Hanson, 2009; ILO, 2007). This situation somehow challenges the macro-economic development policy objectives.
Through the Women and Gender Development Goals, the Tanzanian government recognizes that economic empowerment and especially that of women, is important for sustainable development and poverty eradication because women’s contributions as workers and as managers of human welfare are central to the ability of households, communities, and nations to tackle the current crisis of survival (Sen and Grown, 2013). The policy statements indicates that a suitable environment be put in place to ensure that women and men are economically empowered and have access to capital markets (Kabeer, 2012).
Greater opportunities for women to participate in economic activities either as well paid employees or a successful entrepreneurship certainly will help much in poverty reduction since entrepreneurship development is usually associated with SME development. With women comprising over 50 percent of the country’s population and a majority of them living in rural areas engaging in agriculture and livestock keeping, there are abundant opportunities to alleviate them from poverty through economic empowerment and thus WDF is a facility that will assist to deliver this policy statement (URT, 1992).
2.8.0 Challenges to empowerment through microfinance
While the empowering potential of microfinance programmes remains strong, the evidence of challenges, ineffectiveness and limitations of the potential is equally compelling. Although microfinance has the ability to empower women, the connection is not straightforward or easy to make. Significant research and much anecdotal evidence suggests that this link is certainly not automatic (Hunt and Kasynathan, 2001- 2002; Kabeer and Mayoux, 1998). Just handing money to women and giving them access to financial assets and resources creates a new set of challenges for women, thus balancing the experience of empowerment with the experience of extra burdens.
Others argue more strongly that access to microcredit actually impacts women’s empowerment experience negatively by leading to a certain kind of disempowerment. Yet another set of analyses indicates that the goals of microfinance and its empowering potential are intrinsically of conflicting natures. The argument is that focusing on women’s empowerment leads to dilution of efficiency and sustainability of MFIs, and this results in reluctance to focus on women’s empowerment when designing their systems and programmes. Impressive literature exists that records the challenges and gaps between the goals and the empowerment potential of microfinance programmes that target women. These challenges emanate in the economic, politico-organizational, ideological and cultural domains within which microfinance institutions and microcredit lending programmes are embedded and are discussed below.
2.8.1 Economic and politico-organizational challenges
The central issue here is whether the economic goals of efficiency and sustainability of MFIs are rationally compatible with the goals of empowerment. There are arguments pro and con. Those who support a finding of compatibility have argued that targeting women is in fact more judicious, because of the following reasons: women’s repayment rates are higher than men’s; women are more cooperative; and awareness of what clients have and what they need and empowering them can actually increase sustainability, because MFIs can offer loans that are appropriate and sustainable (Cheston and Kuhn, 2002). Those who emphasize that it is incompatible to aim for efficiency while pursuing the empowerment of women argue that institutions that place a priority on serving women also have a tendency to place social goals ahead of efficiency, leading to poorer financial performance (Cheston and Kuhn, 2002).
The most pertinent example of the consequence of such an economic constraint is the recent turmoil regarding microcredit programmes in the region of Andhra Pradesh in southern India. The economic rationale and logic of MFIs charging high rates of interest, and the reduction or non-existence of interest in integrating other welfare programmes to empower women in their programme design and goals, are quoted as a recent analysis of the crisis in Andhra Pradesh shows that relying on a credit-based poverty reduction strategy is not as judicious, because there are other institutional and structural solutions. This is because what microfinance boasted of trust and solidarity, a cheaper option for poor people and that microcredit has only benign demerits has lost its vitality (Nair, 2011).
As the key actors are women, the insufficient benefits of this programme have been experienced by women. In a rather moving narration of women’s experience with MFIs in Rajasthan in northwest India, Nair (2011) describes: “… in a remote north Rajasthan village that has a couple of women with large loans from a ‘south MFI’, whose name or address they had no clue of. They look up to them with the same eyes as they do to a local moneylender.”
2.8.2 Ideological challenges
A key debate here is whether the concept of empowerment and women’s empowerment is an integral part of a given society or is an imported phenomenon that is borrowed and imposed from the West on the East? Since the primary interest of MFIs is financial sustainability, introducing empowerment issues is not only incompatible with their goals; it is also an additional agenda in which MFIs would avoid investing.
Although governments and organizations such as the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and WWF in India have mobilized women for a long time to fight for women’s rights, it does make it easier for MFIs to avoid an empowerment agenda as it sometimes mutually suits the MFIs and other stakeholders such as national governments. Indeed, there are reports that the MFI turmoil in Andhra Pradesh is more due to government politicians’ and officials’ vested interests and lack of concern for women’s empowerment (Bellman, 2010).
2.8.3 Cultural challenges
The biggest cultural constraint on women’s empowerment through microfinance programmes doing research is the culture of patriarchy pervasive throughout Asia. The patriarchal culture is dynamic and thus exercises constraints in different contexts, in varied forms and at various stages in the empowerment process. These include: bargaining power and the ability to make decisions on economic issues within the household, ability to make decisions outside the household, control over loans, building of social networks, responsibility for household chores, and power over one’s time and physical and emotional health and energy. Drawing on evidence from the extant literature, the discussion below will analyse the nature of cultural challenges to, and constraints on, the empowering potential of microfinance programmes.
The key question here is whether women’s access to credit automatically translates into empowerment in terms of impact on decision-making and self-confidence. As Kabeer (1999) notes, “many feminists recognize that poor men are almost as powerless as poor women in access to material resources in the public domain, but remain privileged within the patriarchal structure of the family.” Thus, although studies show that women’s access to microcredit empowers them in various ways, the same studies and many others also reveal that in the context of women’s empowerment, it is safe to say that “loan alone moans”.
Research conducted on perspectives of women loan borrowers in Bangladesh has emphasized the negative aspect. Findings show that although the benefits of loans accrued to men and other household members, the responsibility and accountability for repaying the loans lay with the woman client, which caused increased levels of stress and dependency (Kabeer, 1998; Goetz and Gupta, 1996; Rahman, 1999; Todd, 1996). It has also been argued that such loans hardly pull women and their households out of poverty (Fisher and Sriram, 2002). As women bear the burden of repayment, they often borrow from other sources to pay back loans, leading to indebtedness. When women borrow for themselves, they lack the means to repay, because women generally invest in existing activities that are low profit and insecure (Mayoux, 2006).
Similarly, in Nepal, although Shrestha (1998) states that women in CSD programmes were gaining autonomy, the researcher also notes that there were no noticeable changes in the nature of gender relations and their prescribed roles and responsibilities within the household. Women’s mobility increases in terms of income-generating activities, but the social stigma of women’s mobility remains. Hence, there was a realization that “women’s empowerment takes much more than access options. The programme needs to consider some strategic or structural changes and incorporate gender mainstreaming actions in order to inch towards the overall empowerment of women.”
Research by Gaiha and Nandhi (2005) on the role of SHGs in contributing to women’s empowerment reveals that empowerment was collaborated by different sources and methods in varying degrees. These included gaining self-confidence, greater respect within the family, a more assertive role in family decision-making, and better buying and selling skills. Practices such as polygamy, patriarchal control over resources and social norms of reproductive responsibilities truncate this success. Again, in the context of microfinance programmes facilitating political empowerment for women in Nepal, although Shrestha (1998) shows that 96 CSD women were elected as political representatives, they were nominal representatives and did not have any influence on the decision-making process once elected.
The use of credit loans also indicates the influence of patriarchal culture, thus negatively influencing women’s empowerment. Particularly in South Asia and parts of Latin America, most women use loans for their husband’s activities (Goetz and Gupta, 1996; Basnet, 1995). Similarly, Kabeer (1998) finds that microfinance has been effective in increasing incomes and assets, although certainly not in the poorest households. Women tend to spend income, when they do control it, on household consumption and ‘security-related assets’ such as homestead land, whereas men borrowers are more likely to invest in further productive activities. How strong and real gender empowerment is through these loans is indicated by the name in which any new assets are registered, and why. Kabeer found that many women continue to register land and productive assets in their husband’s name because of inheritance laws: assets will be inherited by sons if registered in the husband’s name, and by daughters if registered in the wife’s name (Kabeer, 1998).
The low empowerment effect of access to loans is evidenced when “even where they use loans for their own activities, women’s choice of activity and the ability to increase their incomes are seriously constrained by gender inequalities in access to other, supplementary resources for investment; responsibility for household subsistence expenditure, lack of time due to unpaid domestic work, low levels of mobility and vulnerability, all of which limit women’s access to profitable markets in many cultures” (Mayoux and Hartl, 2009). In the context of Pakistan, Zaidi et al. (2007) note that women’s empowerment across a range of indicators of decision-making actually decreased and the reasons were unclear. Rahman’s study (1999) also showed that 40 to 70 per cent of the loans disbursed to women were used by the spouse and that tensions within the household increased.
In a study of the relationship of economic empowerment to microfinance in West Bengal, Basu (2006) reports that among women who had taken out loans for income-generating activities, only 5 per cent reported having total autonomous control over the money. Fifty-six per cent reported that they share control with their husbands, and 38 per cent that their husbands have sole control over the proceeds of the loan. In five states of India, another study of the impact of microfinance on the decision making power of women showed that although women in SHGs who had access to microcredit were involved in decision-making in their households – more than women in the control group their empowerment “did not show any significant impact on some of the key decision-making areas of family planning, children’s marriage and the buying and selling of land” (Bali-Swain, 2006).
Swain and Wallentin (2009) found that unless existing social norms and culture are challenged, microfinance through SHGs does not empower women. In her classic study of SEDP in Bangladesh, Kabeer (1998) showed that although women who borrowed loans reported having a sense of self-worth, these subjective perceptions did not translate into actual changes in well-being, gender relations at home or any benefits. This resonates with other studies of gender relations at the household level (Sen 1990, Kandiyoti 1998). In addition, economic empowerment may come at the cost of psychological stress and health. The work burden for women increases, because microcredit programmes, although useful, increase women’s work by involving them in time-consuming meetings and income-generating activities without taking any action to reduce their traditional responsibilities (Mayoux and Hartl, 2009; Cheston and Kuhn 2002). This resonates with Kabeer’s (1998) thoughts on the challenging nature of women’s empowerment, when she explains that “different aspects of women’s disempowerment, and hence empowerment, are closely related so that initiatives in relation to one aspect are likely to set off changes in other aspects, although not in easily predictable ways.”
There is also evidence of not only lack of impact of microfinance programmes, but danger of disempowerment, because credit, which is actually a debt, may lead to severe impoverishment or abandonment and may put serious strains on networks with other women. Moreover, pressure to save may mean women forgoing their own necessary consumption (Mayoux, 2006).
The nature of economic empowerment through microfinance is also not very appealing, because it tends to reduce empowerment gained through other sources, especially through social capital and social networks. Research shows that if social meetings are only about money transactions, and if women falter in repaying loans, women’s existing networks may come under serious strain (Rahman, 1999).
In a similar vein, Ngo and Wahhaj (2011) noted that in situations where microloans are given to women who do not have the ability to engage in economic activities autonomously or to have autonomous control of the resources, microfinance projects do not empower women. Similarly, in impoverished communities where microfinance operates, it is usually kinship ties and marriage systems, rather than microfinance loans, which help claim household and community resources. Such negative impact of MFIs on social capital counters the positive effect explored in the other studies described above. This indicates how the same phenomena here, social capital and networks can simultaneously weaken and strengthen MFIs.
An in-depth gender analysis of the impact of MFIs on women’s empowerment ought to take into account not just how MFIs impact women borrowers, but also how they impact them as an exclusive category in relation to men who receive microfinance loans. The review of positive and negative effects of MFIs on women’s empowerment raises an important issue: what is it about these effects that are women-specific. In other words, are these outcomes only related to women as opposed to men? And does this effect on women take place because they are women? A powerful distinction exists between two feminist perspectives: one group argues that women cannot be thought of as a social collective because gender cannot be generalized (Spelman 1988; Butler 1990; Mohanty, 1991) and that the “search for common characteristics of women or women’s oppression leads to normalizations and exclusions” (Young 1997). The other group argues that the denial of seeing women as a social collective reinforces the privilege of those who benefit from keeping women divided (Lange, 1991).
This conceptual framework relates in important ways to the situation of empowerment outcomes for women in MFIs. Thus there are certainly outcomes that are specific to women, but this does not have to do so much with the characteristics that are intrinsic to women. Rather it is due to the societal and cultural conditions that affect women uniquely. So, while seeing women as a social collective possessing certain unique characteristics such as women managing household responsibilities and belonging to the private sphere more rigidly than men has been helpful in promoting and providing access to MFIs, these traits are not biologically intrinsic to women. Rather they are a product of socialization and cultural conditioning giving rise to a patriarchal culture. This results in women’s experience of empowerment through MFIs exclusive to women.
In other words, while the positive effects of MFIs on women may equally apply to men, it is the negative influence, discussed in the preceding sections, that is mostly exclusively and disproportionately experienced by women. The effect of patriarchal culture is most pervasive and pernicious, and women experience it exclusively. Similarly, the disempowerment outcomes due to social networks pertain, if not specifically to women because they are women, then certainly in greater proportion. This is because women more than men rely on the ‘value of connectedness’ (Collins, 1990), rather than on a morality of individual rights (Robnett, 1997). These are women whose everyday lives are embedded in a collectivism and in community to a much larger extent than men, who enter the public sphere for employment. For these reasons, MFIs’ negative impact on women’s empowerment is such because they are women.
2.9.0 Microfinance and its impacts on development and women empowerment.
Otero (1999) illustrates the various ways in which “microfinance, at its core combats poverty”. She states that microfinance creates access to productive capital for the poor, which together with human capital, addressed through education and training, and social capital, achieved through local organisation building, enables people to move out of poverty (1999). By providing material capital to a poor person, their sense of dignity is strengthened and this can help to empower the person to participate in the economy and society (Otero, 1999). The aim of microfinance according to Otero (1999) is not just about providing capital to the poor to combat poverty on an individual level, it also has a role at an institutional level. It seeks to create institutions that deliver financial services to the poor, who are continuously ignored by the formal banking sector.
Littlefield and Rosenberg (2004) state that, the poor are generally excluded from the financial services sector of the economy so MFIs have emerged to address this market failure. By addressing this gap in the market in a financially sustainable manner, an MFI can become part of the formal financial system of a country and so can access capital markets to fund their lending portfolios, allowing them to dramatically increase the number of poor people they can reach (Otero, 1999). More recently, commentators such as Littlefield et al, (2003), Simanowitz and Brody (2004) and the IMF (2005) have commented on the critical role of microfinance in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Simanowitz and Brody (2004) state, “Microfinance is a key more members receive loans and after another period of successful repayment, the final member receives a loan (Ledgerwood, 1999).
The concept of poverty and the impact of microfinance in combating poverty are examined in more detail in the following section of this chapter. The MDGs are (i) eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; (ii) achieve universal primary education; (iii) promote gender equality and empower women; (iv) reduce child mortality; (v) improve maternal health; (vi) combat strategy in reaching the MDGs and in building global financial systems that meet the needs of the most poor people.” Littlefield, Murduch and Hashemi (2003) state “microfinance is a critical contextual factor with strong impact on the achievements of the MDGs…microfinance is unique among development interventions. It can deliver social benefits on an ongoing, permanent basis and on a large scale”. Referring to various case studies, they show how microfinance has played a role in eradicating poverty, promoting education, improving health and empowering women (2003).However, not all commentators are as enthusiastic about the role of microfinance in development and itis important to realise that microfinance is not a silver bullet when it comes to fighting poverty. Hulme and Mosley (1996), while acknowledging the role microfinance can have in helping to reduce poverty, concluded from their research on microfinance that “most contemporary schemes are less effective than they might be” (1996). They state that microfinance is not a panacea for poverty alleviation and that in some cases the poorest people have been made worse-off by microfinance. Rogaly (1996) finds five major faults with MFIs. He argues that, they encourage a single sector approach to the allocation of resources to fight poverty, microcredit is irrelevant to the poorest people, an over simplistic notion of poverty is used, there is an over emphasis on scale, there is inadequate learning and change taking place.
Wright (2000) states that much of the scepticism of MFIs stems from the argument that microfinance projects “fail to reach the poorest, generally have a limited effect on income drive women into greater dependence on their husbands and fail to provide additional services desperately needed by the poor”. In addition, Wright says that many development practitioners not only find microfinance inadequate, but that it actually diverts funding from “more pressing or important interventions” such as health and education (2000). As argued by Navajas et al (2000), there is a danger that microfinance may siphon funds from other projects that might help the poor more. They state that governments and donors should know whether the poor gain more from microfinance, than from more health care or food aid for example. Therefore, there is a need for all involved in microfinance and development to ascertain what exactly has been the impact of microfinance in combating poverty.
Considerable debate remains about the effectiveness of microfinance as a tool for directly reducing poverty, and about the characteristics of the people it benefits (Chowdhury et al, 2004). Sinha (1998) argues that it is notoriously difficult to measure the impact of microfinance programmes on poverty. This is so she argues, because money is fungible and therefore it is difficult to isolate credit impact, but also because the definition of ‘poverty’, how it is measured and who constitute the ‘poor’ “are fiercely contested issues”. Poverty is a complex issue and is difficult to define, as there are various dimensions to poverty. For some, such as World Bank, poverty relates to income, and poverty measures are based on the percentage of people living below a fixed amount of money, such as US$1 dollar a day (World Bank, 2003).
There is a certain amount of debate about whether impact assessment of microfinance projects is necessary or not according to Simanowitz (2001). The argument is that if the market can provide adequate proxies for impact, showing that clients are happy to pay for a service, assessments are a waste of resources (ibid.). However, this is too simplistic a rationale as market proxies mask the range of client responses and benefits to the MFI (ibid.) Therefore, impact assessment of microfinance interventions is necessary, not just to demonstrate to donors that their interventions are having a positive impact, but to allow for learning within MFIs so that they can improve their services and the impact of their projects (Simanowitz, 2001).Poverty is more than just a lack of income. Wright (1999) highlights the shortcomings of focusing solely on increased income as a measure of the impact of microfinance on poverty. He states that there is a HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development (Littlefield et al, 2003).
It is commonly asserted that MFIs are not reaching the poorest in society. However, despite some commentators’ scepticism of the impact of microfinance on poverty, studies have shown that microfinance has been successful in many situations. According to Littlefield et al, (2003) “various studies, document increases in income and assets, and decreases in vulnerability of microfinance clients”. They refer to projects in India, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Uganda which all show very positive impacts of microfinance in reducing poverty. For instance, a report on a SHARE project in India showed that three-quarters of clients saw “significant improvements in their economic well-being and that half of the clients graduated out of poverty” (2003).
Dichter (1999) states that microfinance is a tool for poverty reduction and while arguing that the record of MFIs in microfinance is “generally well below expectation” he does concede that some positive impacts do take place. From a study of a number of MFIs he states that findings show that consumption smoothing effects, signs of redistribution of wealth and influence within the household are the most common impact of MFI programmes (ibid.). Hulme and Mosley (1996) in a comprehensive study on the use of microfinance to combat poverty, argue that well-designed programmes can improve the incomes of the poor and can move them out of poverty. They state that “there is clear evidence that the impact of a loan on a borrower’s income is related to the level of income” as those with higher incomes have a greater range of investment opportunities and so credit schemes are more likely to benefit the “middle and upper poor” (1996).
However, they also show that when MFIs such as the Grameen Bank and BRAC provided credit to very poor households, those households were able to raise their incomes and their assets (1996). Mayoux (2001) states that while microfinance has much potential the main effects on poverty have been: credit making a significant contribution to increasing incomes of the better-off poor, including women, microfinance services contributing to the smoothing out of peaks and troughs in income and expenditure thereby enabling the poor to cope with unpredictable shocks and emergencies. Hulme and Mosley (1996) show that when loans are associated with an increase in assets, when borrowers are encouraged to invest in low-risk income generating activities and when the very poor are encouraged to save, the vulnerability of the very poor is reduced and their poverty situation improves.
Johnson and Rogaly (1997) also refer to examples whereby savings and credit schemes were able to meet the needs of the very poor. They state that microfinance specialists are beginning to view improvements in economic security, rather than income promotion, as the first step in poverty reduction as this reduces beneficiaries’ overall vulnerability (ibid). Therefore, while much debate remains about the impact of microfinance projects on poverty, we have seen that when MFIs understand the needs of the poor and try to meet these needs, projects can have a positive impact on reducing the vulnerability, not just of the poor, but also of the poorest in society. Current debates on the impact of microfinance in development: to smooth out peaks and troughs in income and expenditure, to invest in businesses or assets including new technology, capital and assets such as land or housing, to cope with unpredictable shocks and emergencies such as death and natural disasters and to make socially required contributions to lifecycle or community events like marriages, funerals and religious festivals (Mayoux, 2001).
Carney (1998) defines a livelihood as comprising “the capabilities, assets and activities required for a means of living.” Chambers (1997) states that livelihood security is “basic to well-being” and that security “refers to secure rights and reliable access to resources, food, income and basic services. It includes tangible and intangible assets to offset risk, ease shocks and meet contingencies.” Lindenberg (2002) defines livelihood security as “a family’s or community’s ability to maintain and improve its income, assets and social well-being from year to year.” Concern also state that livelihood security is more than just economic well-being as they define livelihood security as “the adequate and sustainable access to and control over resources, both material and social, to enable households to achieve their rights without undermining the natural resource base” (Concern, 2003).
Livelihood security therefore, like poverty, is not just about income, but includes tangible and intangible assets, and social wellbeing. Johnson and Rogaly (1997) state that “NGOs aiming for poverty reduction need to assess the impact of their services on user’s livelihoods.” They argue that in addressing the question of the impact of microfinance, NGOs must go beyond analysing quantitative data detailing the numbers of users, and volumes and size of loans disbursed, to understanding how their projects are impacting on clients’ livelihoods. Johnson and Rogaly (1997) state that, the provision of microfinance can give poor people “the means to protect their livelihoods against shocks as well as to build up and diversify their livelihood activities”. Therefore when analysing the impact of microfinance the overall impact of the microfinance services on the livelihoods of the poor needs to be taken into consideration.
According to Concern (2003) livelihood security approach aims for a holistic analysis and understanding of the root causes of poverty and how people cope with poverty. They identify livelihood shocks such as natural disasters and drought, the social, political and economic context, and people’s livelihood resources such as education and local infrastructure as factors affecting people’s livelihood security (ibid.).
2.9.1 Social impact analysis
Traditionally, the impact of microfinance projects was assessed by the changes in the income or well-being of the clients. Mansell-Carstens, cited in Rogaly (1996) argues that such a focus is flawed because respondents may give false information. It is also very difficult to ascertain all the sources of income of a client, so a causal effect is difficult to establish, and it is also difficult to establish what would have happened if the loan was not given. Therefore a broader analysis is needed that takes more than economic impact into consideration. We have seen that poverty and livelihood security consist of economic and social conditions, therefore, when analysing the impact of microfinance, social impact must be assessed. Kabeer (2003) states that wider social impact assessment is important for an organisation’s internal learning process, as an MFI should be aware of the “full range of changes associated with its efforts and uses these to improve its performance”. She considers social impact to relate to human capital such as nutrition, health and education, as well as social networks (2003). Impact must be assessed on each of these issues if a true picture of the impact of microfinance is to be obtained.
However, Kabeer (2003) moves beyond individual or household analysis to state that analysis should also be conducted at community, market or economy and state levels. She refers to these as “domains of impact” because societies are comprised of different institutional domains each with their own rules, norms and practices which can be influenced by microfinance interventions in different ways. Kabeer (2003) not only refers to domains of impact but also highlights dimensions of change that should be assessed. She lists cognitive change, behavioural change, material change, relational change and institutional change as dimensions of change that need to be taken into account if the wider effects of microfinance interventions are to be understood. Changes in the way in which people understand and make sense of the world around them. The different types of actions that people undertake in order to achieve their goals. Changes in access to a variety of tangible resources.
Zohir and Matin (2004) make a similar point when they state that the impact of microfinance interventions is being under-estimated by “conventional impact studies which do not take into account the possible positive externalities on spheres beyond households”. They propose that impact should be examined from cultural, economic, social and political domains at individual, enterprise and household levels (2004).McGregor et al. (2000) states that wider social and economic impacts can occur through the labour market, the capital market, the market for goods consumed by poor people, through production linkages and through clients’ participation in social and political processes. Chowdhury et al (2004) argue that if microfinance is to fulfil its social objectives of bringing financial services to the poor it is important to know the extent to which its wider impacts contribute to poverty reduction.
2.9.2 Impacts at a household level
Health and education are two key areas of non-financial impact of microfinance at a household level. Wright (2000) states that from the little research that has been conducted on the impact of microfinance interventions on health and education, nutritional indicators seem to improve where MFIs have been working. Research on the Grameen Bank shows that members are statistically more likely to use contraceptives than non-members thereby impacting on family size (ibid.). Littlefield et al (2003) also acknowledge the sparse specific evidence of the impact of microfinance on health but where studies have been conducted they conclude, “households of microfinance clients appear to have better nutrition, health practices and health education than comparable non-client households”. Among the examples they give is of FOCCAS, a Ugandan MFI whose clients were given health care instructions on breastfeeding and family planning. They were seen to have much better health care practices than non-clients, with 95% of clients engaged in improved health and nutrition practices for their children, as opposed to 72% for non-clients (Littlefield et al, 2003).
Microfinance interventions have also been shown to have a positive impact on the education of clients’ children. Littlefield et al (2003) state that one of the first things that poor people do with new income from microenterprise activities is to invest in their children’s education. Studies show that children of microfinance clients are more likely to go to school and stay longer in school than for children of non-clients. Again, in their study of FOCCAS, client households were found to be investing more in education than non-client households. Similar findings were seen for projects in Zimbabwe, India, Honduras and Bangladesh (ibid.).Robinson (2001) in a study of 16 different MFIs from all over the world shows that having access to microfinance services has led to an enhancement in the quality of life of clients, an increase in their self-confidence, and has helped them to diversify their livelihood security strategies and thereby increase their income.
Following a three-year study of 906 clients, ASA17 an MFI working with 60,000 rural women in Tamil Nadu, India, found that their project had many positive impacts on their clients (Noponen, 2005). The programme was having a “positive impact on livelihoods, social status, treatment in the home and community, living conditions and consumption standards” (2005). Compared with new members, some of the findings showed that long-term members were more likely to live in tile roofed and concrete houses, to have a higher percentage of their children in school, to have lower incidence of child labour, to be the largest income provider or joint provider in the home, and to make decisions on their own as regards major purchases (Noponen, 2005). Clients also reflected significant increases in ownership of livelihood assets such as livestock, equipment and land (ibid.).
In 2002, FINRURAL, a microfinance networking organisation in Bolivia, carried out impact assessments on eight of its partner MFIs focusing on economic and social impacts at an individual, household and changes in terms on which people interact with one another. Changes in the rules, norms and behaviour at an institutional level. Activists for Social Alternatives community level on both clients and non-clients (Marconi and Mosley, 2004). Many of the impacts on income were positive for the less poor and negative for the poorer clients, a trend that we have already seen. Marconi and Mosley (2004) state that this should not be surprising as poorer clients are more risk adverse and less likely to invest in fixed capital and so are more vulnerable to having to sell productive assets in the event of a shock. However, it was found that social networks played an important part in helping clients escape from poverty.
Access to social networks provided clients with a defence against having to sell physical and human assets and so protected household assets (ibid.). Chowdhury and Bhuiya (2004) assessed impact of BRAC’s poverty alleviation programme from a “human well-being” perspective in a programme in Bangladesh where they examined seven dimensions of ‘human well-being’. The project included the provision of microfinance and training of clients on human and legal rights (ibid.). They noted that the project led to better child survival rates, higher nutritional status, improvement in the basic level of education, and increased networking in the community. Children of BRAC clients suffered from far less protein-energy malnutrition than children of non-members, and the educational performance of BRAC member’s children was also higher than that of children in non-BRAC households (ibid.). BRAC member households spent significantly more on consumption of food items than poor non-members did and per capita calorie intake was also significantly higher. Therefore, various studies and findings indicate that microfinance can, and is having very positive and diverse impacts at a beneficiary level.
2.9.3 Impacts beyond the households
Imp-Act (2004b) gives examples where the impact of microfinance projects goes beyond clients. They refer to studies on CERUDEB, an MFI in Uganda, which show that loans given to small farmers have resulted in substantial increases in part-time and permanent wage labour of non-clients (ibid.). Even though the clients themselves were usually above the poverty line, the people they employed were not, thereby showing the positive knock-on effects of such an intervention, even if the poorest were not targeted. Mosley and Rock (2004) in a study of six African MFIs found similar results. They concluded from their study that MFI services provided to the non-poor can reduce poverty by “sucking very poor people into the labour market as employees of microfinance clients”. They also state that microfinance services often enhance human capital through increased spending on education and health that may extend to poor households through intra household and inter-generational effects (ibid.).
Zohir and Matin (2004) state that many MFI loans are used for agricultural production, trading, processing and transport, resulting in an increase in the use of agricultural inputs and increased output of agricultural production. This leads to enhanced employment opportunities in these sectors for the wider community and a reduction in the prices of such produce due to increased supply. They also state that trading activities financed by MFIs can help to establish new marketing links and increase the income of traders, and this can lead to reduced migration due to increased employment opportunities and increased income (Zohir and Matin, 2004). From a social perspective, they state that reduced migration increases family cohesion and greatly contributes towards improving child-upbringing (ibid.).
Women’s well-being is defined in terms of three sets of capabilities: the degree of autonomy with which women can live their lives, their ability to control decision making within the family and their relative access to household resources such as food, education to mention just a few. (Osmani, 1998) Kabeer (2003) refers to a study conducted by the Grameen Bank which showed that non-members of a Grameen village were significantly more likely to use contraception than non-members in a non-Grameen village. This was due to a diffusion of the “small family norm” of Grameen women through social networks within the village as the Grameen Bank emphasises women’s productive roles, as opposed to their reproductive role, and non-members picked up this norm from members.
Studies have also shown that Grameen-style projects, based on collective activism, can lead to a greater level of legal and political awareness among clients, with a greater likelihood of clients taking part in political campaigns the longer they had been a member (Kabeer, 2003). Zohir and Matin (2004) state that the interaction within MFI groups can create co-operation and trust that not only facilitates the microfinance activities, but also contributes benefits beyond the service provided, such as a greater sense of community, trust and reliance on the group in times of crisis. These networks can lay the foundations for other social capital developments in the community. They state that examples of cultural impacts of social intermediation that affect the greater community could be a change in attitude of society towards the acceptable age of women’s marriage, domestic violence, dowry (ibid.).
In this chapter the researcher have started by giving any introduction of literature review and went on by stating the objectives of WDF. Again the researcher also highlighted were the fund comes from and the beneficiaries of that fund. Conceptualization of empowerment, women empowerment, dimensions of empowerment, and challenges of empowerment through microfinance and microfinance and its impacts on development, specifically in relation to alleviating poverty was also examined.
3.0 Research methodology
This chapter is there to highlight the road map taken by the researcher to achieve set objectives in the first chapter and it involves research methodology, target area and population, sampling methods, data collection techniques, ethical consideration, data analysis and interpretation and ends with a conclusion.
3.2 Research methodology
Research methodology is a way to systematically solve the research problem. It may be understood as a science of studying how research is done scientifically. In it we study the various steps that are generally adopted by a researcher in studying his research problem along with the logic behind them. It is necessary for the researcher to know not only the research methods or techniques but also the methodology. Methodology is also defined as various methods used in collecting and analysing data in order to find out in detail how one intents to achieve research objectives (Bell, 2001).
3.3 Target area
The area under study is wedza district in Mashonaland East province which is about 128 km from Harare going to Sadza Growth Point. The researcher chose only four wards that is 1 group in growth point which is ward 15, 1 group in resettlement area that is ward 4 and lastly 2 groups in communal area which is ward 5 and 6. Key informants are Ministry of women affairs, gender and community development which is now known as ministry of women and youth affairs personnel that is DDO, 4 WDCs for the respective wards, CDO as well as POSB personnel who were responsible for the disbursement of funds and repayment.
3.4 Target population
In this case the research is based on WDF group members who benefited the loan since 2010 up to date in ward 4, 5, 6 and 15. Staff from ministry of women affairs, gender and community development and one staff member from POSB. Nachmaise et al (1980) view population as the aggregate of all cases that conforms to some designated set of specification. Chatora (1989) says population in research refers to an entire group which some specific information is required or recorded. It is a population from which the sample size was drawn and its findings were generalized or for which information is desired, and sometimes referred to as target population/universe (Rwegoshora, 2006).
3.5.0 Sampling methods
Sampling methods are classified as either probability or nonprobability. In probability samples, each member of the population has a known non-zero probability of being selected. Probability methods includes random sampling, systematic sampling and stratified sampling. In non-probability sampling, members are selected from the population in some non-random manner. These include convenience sampling, judgement sampling, quota sampling and snowballing sampling. The advantage of probability sampling is that sampling error can be calculated. Sampling error is the degree to which a sample might differ from population. When inferring to the population, results are reported plus or minus the sampling error. In non-probability sampling, the degree to which the sample differs from the population remains unknown. According to field (2005) a sample is a smaller collection of units from a population used to determine truths about that population. In this case, only probability methods are used to come up with sample size.
3.5.1 Random sampling
Is the purest form of probability sampling. Each member of the population has an equal and known chance of being selected. When there are very large populations, it is often difficult or impossible to identify every member of the population, so the pool of available subjects becomes biased.
3.5.2 Systematic sampling
Is often used instead of random sampling. It is also called an Nth name selection technique. After the required sample size has been calculated, every Nth record is selected from a list of population members. As long as the list does not contain any hidden order, this sampling method is as good as the random sampling method. Its advantage over random sampling technique is simplicity. This technique is mostly used to select a specified number of records from a computer file.
3.5. 3 Stratified Sampling
Is commonly used probability method that is superior to random sampling because it reduces sampling error. A stratum is a sub set of the population that share at least one common characteristic, for example, males and females or managers and non-managers. The researcher first identifies the relevant stratums and their actual representation in the population. Random sampling is then used to select a sufficient number of subjects from each stratum. Stratified sampling is often used when one or more of the stratums in the population have a low evidence related to the other stratums.
3.6.0 Data collection techniques
Any research is only as good as the data that drives it, so choosing the right technique of data collection can make all the difference. In this case, interviews, questionnaires, observations, focus group discussions and documentation analysis were used to collect data. Questionnaires and interview guide was developed through using some questionnaires used before related studies and most questions were modified to suit the local situation.
An interview is a data collection technique that involves oral questioning of respondents, either individually or as a group. It is purposeful discussion between two or more people that can help the researcher to gather valid and reliable data that is relevant to your research objectives (Kahn and Cannel, 1957). Some interviews may be highly formalised and structured or there may be informed and unstructured conversation (Thakur, 2009). Structured interview method is based upon structured set of questions and is highly standardized in form of content. Unstructured interview method is based on semi structured interview guide. Face to face interviews are one of the popular methods of collecting data for surveys. WDF beneficiaries, personnel from ministry of WAGCD and POSB in wedza district were interviewed. Advantages of interviews includes the following: it is suitable for use with both literates and illiterates, permits clarification of questionnaires and it has high response rate than written questionnaires. Its disadvantages includes, the presences of interviewer can influence responses and report of events may be less complete than information gained through observations.
3.6.2 Focus group
A focus group discussion (FGD) is a qualitative research technique consisting of a structured discussion and used to obtain in-depth information from a group of people about a particular topic. The purpose of the discussion is to use the social dynamics of the group, with the help of a moderator or facilitator, to stimulate participants to reveal essential information about people’s opinions, beliefs, perceptions and attitudes. Focus groups are often conducted among homogenous target populations, who usually share a common characteristics such as age, sex or socio-economic status, which encourages a group to speak more freely about the subject without fear of being judged by others. Some of the strengths of focus group discussions are: it helps the researcher to uncover information that they may not have envisaged, it helps the researchers corroborate the facts instantly, any inaccurate response will most likely be countered by other members of the group and it also gives the researchers a chance to view both sides of the coin and build a balanced perspective on the matter. Its disadvantage is that, domination of other members can affect the results of the research.
This is a technique that involves systematically selection, watching and recording behaviour and characteristics of living being, objects or phenomena. Making direct observations of simplistic phenomena can be a very quick and effective way of collecting data with minimal intrusion. Establishing the right mechanism for making the observation is all the researcher need. Strengths of observations are: non-responsive sample subjects are a non-issue when making direct observation, it does not require a very extensive and well-tailored training regime for the survey workforce and infrastructure requirement and preparation time are minimal for sample observations. Its limitations are, more complex observations that ask observers to interpret something require more complex training and are prone to bias and there is a possibility of missing out on the complete picture due to the lack of direct interaction with sample subjects.
According to Kelinger (1973) questionnaires are instruments comprised of series of questions to solicit information and filled in by respondents. Bless and Higson-Smith (1995) defines a questionnaire as a set of questions with fixed wording and sequence of presentation, as well as more or less precise indications of how to answer each question. Open and closed ended questionnaires are the two types of questionnaires. Open ended allows the participant to freely express their views rather than closed questions. According to Bernard (2010) survey questionnaires are highly representative, ensures convenient data gathering and high reliability that the researchers biases are eliminated. Advantages of using questionnaires are: it is less expensive, it permits anonymity and may result in more honest responses, it does not require research assistances and it eliminate bias to phrasing questions differently with different respondents. It disadvantages are, it cannot be used with illiterate respondents and require some extra training of researches.
3.6.5 Documentation analysis
Document analysis is a form of qualitative research in which documents are interpreted by the researcher to give voice and meaning around an assessment topic (Bowen, 2009). Analysing documents incorporates coding content into themes similar to how focus group or interview transcripts are analysed (Bowen, 2009). It is a social research method and is an important research tool in its own right and is an invaluable part of the most schemes of triangulation, the combination of methodology in the study of the same phenomenon (Bowen, 2009). There are three primary types of documents (O’Leary, 2014) and these are: public records, personal documents and physical evidence. There are many reasons why researchers choose to use document analysis and are as follows: documents are manageable and practical resources, documents are commonplace and come in a variety of forms, making documents a very accessible and reliable source of data, it is far more cost efficient and time efficient and documents ae stable, non-reactive data sources, meaning that they can be read and reviewed multiple times and remain unchanged by the researchers influence or research process (Bowen, 2009, p. 31).
3.7 Ethical consideration
Soltis (1989) observed research values as “honesty, fairness, respect for persons and beneficence.” The researcher accommodated the responsibilities to protect the interest of the University and participants. This was achieved through voluntary participation of participants meaning participants had freedom to withdraw from study. Informed consent was useful for the people were fully aware of procedures that were taken and this made things more clear and it lead to agreement. No names were jotted on a questionnaire during study since some people did not want to be disclosed. The issue of confidentiality was prioritized as no information was to be given to anyone who was not directly linked to the study. Ethical considerations include the principles of respect for a person, the principles of beneficence, and the principles of justice, therefore it became the researcher’s responsibility to protect the well-being of the respondents (Best, 2009).
3.8 Data presentation and analysis
Hopkins (2008) states that analysis consists of running various statistical tests on the data, often by hand computation or by means of desk calculators, but frequently via computer. In this research, data variables most central to the study were analysed. These variables were generally analysed for presentation in the form of tables and graphs. The contents of these tables include percentages, frequencies and some statistical measures. The constraints encountered were on calculating and drawing the graphs. However, this was solved by taking time practicing the mathematical models of finding percentage, mean, mode and frequency
3.9 Chapter summary
This chapter highlighted the research methodology used. The research design was a case study which offered intensive study of the variables to be analysed. The data collection techniques were covered for both primary and secondary data. The research instrument employed was highlighted which included the questionnaire design in line with the research questions. It also highlighted the ethical considerations and data presentation and analysis and ended with a chapter summary. The next chapter presents the findings of the research and discussions in line with the research questions.
4.0 DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS.
This section presents the presentation, analysis and discussion of research findings and it focus on the statistical performed on the data using data presentation techniques such as pie charts, tables and bar graphs. Relevant data will be analysed against fundamental issues raised in the main objectives of the study. Other scholar’s views who conducted the same study their findings will be considered in order to straighten the findings of this study.
Section A: biographical data of respondents.
Table 4.1 selection table for participants
Category of respondents Target population Population sample
DDO MoWAGCD 1 1
CDO MoWAGCD 1 1
WDC MoWAGCD 3 3
POSB manager 1 1
WDF beneficiaries 126 40
Total 132 46
The above table shows how the despondence were selected to undergo the study session. It highlights the target population and the population size that undergoes the study session. Target population were 132 including the key informs from ministry of women affairs, gender and community development as well as the POSB personnel. Out of 146 people only 46 people were picked using simple random and stratified method.
4.2 Background information for WDF beneficiaries.
Table 4.2 background information for WDF beneficiaries by Age.
Category frequency Percentage
18-27 years 4 10
28-37 years 7 17.5
38-47 years 12 30
48-57 years 10 25
58 and above 7 17.5
Total 40 100
Table 4.2 above highlighted the background information of the beneficiaries of WDF according to their age. This shows that WDF caters for everyone no matter how old is she. This was proved by the finds above that between the age of 18 to 27, 10 percent of them benefited from WDF, 17.5 percent of the beneficiaries were 28 to 37 years, 30 percent were 38 to 47 percent and last but not least 25 percent of the respondents were 48 to 57 years were benefited too and 17.5 percent were the age of 58 and above.
4.3 Women development fund
According to information from the District Head of Ministry of Women Affair, Gender and Community Development and the POSB personnel that WDF is disbursed on yearly bases since 2010 up to date and it has its requirements for one to access it and these includes: a project proposal with a cash flow projection of twelve months, a group constitution, proof of residence and photocopy of identity card, proof of an existing or ongoing project and completion of the loan application form provided by the ministry. More so, the DDO also highlighted that loan beneficiaries were to undergo a financial literacy and pre-loan disbursement trainings to ensure proper utilisation and avoid misuse of funds.
To add on that, the head of the ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development said that the funds were used to boost production and ensure business growth. He goes on by highlighted the that Tsungai group in ward 15 used the funds to buy and increase their stocks, whilst those in manufacturing and production sector used the funds to buy raw materials such as sewing materials for sewing groups and fertilizers and seed for the group involved in horticulture. Ward development coordinator for ward 6 alluded that Chitendero
Chitsva group which is in to horticulture production used their loan to buy an irrigation engines, fencing material and inputs for their farming activities.
Table 4.3 showing number of projects funded
Sector Number of project funded Percentage
Horticulture 8 20
Poultry 14 35
Sewing 4 10
Buying and selling 5 12,5
Beekeeping 4 10
Bakery 2 5
Retail 3 7.5
Total 40 100
Fig 4.1 showing different business sector received WDF
The above table shows different projects financed by WDF in wedza district. There are forty projects altogether but out of those forty 20 percent were horticultural projects, thirty-five percent were poultry, sewing percent, buying and selling twelve point five, beekeeping ten percent, bakery five percent and retail seven point five percent.
4.4 Impacts of women development fund
Looking at information found from women beneficiaries, it shows that 100 percent of the participants agreed that WDF had an impact on their livelihoods because they are now able to pay school fees even at tertiary education, their income per month had increased for about 30 to 60 % per month, most of them showed that they are now able to buy enough food for the family and there now able to make decisions at household and community level to mention just a few.
This was also supported by the information from the CDO, DDO and WDCs that an improvements were noted towards women empowerment caused by WDF as outlined below: the general standard of living for women beneficiaries improved as a result of increased household income due to operation of income generating projects supported by the WDF. Some households were now able to afford decent meals, sent children to school and able to meet some of the day to day household needs.
Again the ministry staff noted that, some group members managed to acquire household properties and livestock due to the support they got from WDF for example, some of the sweet melody group in ward 5 testified during monitoring and evaluation that they managed to purchase a wheelbarrow and a plough due to the proceeds they got from running projects supported by WDF. Another impact noted is that some members of Tsungai group managed to scale up their projects and they acquired a commercial stand at wedza growth point.
4.4 women empowerment
Basing on the information gathered from DDO, CDO and WDCs women empowerment means providing resources and ideas to women in disadvantaged situation, so that they can strengthen their capacities in order to fully participate in the community programmes and to articulate their interests. 100% of the respondents said they already head about women empowerment and they think of giving power to women in all aspects of development for example financial, political, psychological and social development so that they get into decision making positions at household level and community as a whole. This was supported by OXFAM’s understanding of women empowerment which encompasses aspects of: women’s ability to make decisions and influence, women’s self-perception, women’s personal freedom, women’s access to and control over resources and support from social networks.
4.5.0 Challenges in acquiring WDF
4.5.1 Challenges faced by women in acquiring WDF
According to the findings of the study, it reflects that out of forty women who benefited from WDF 57.5% of them faced challenges in acquiring the fund. Also 42 percent reported that they have not face any challenge in applying the loan, 5 percent said the fund they were given was not enough to beef up their projects and 95 percent said the money was enough to boost their projects. 5 percent of the participants were complaining about the use of POSB as the only bank that is responsible for the disbursement of fund which is found at district level which is too far to them hence transport cost became too expensive to them. To add on that 12.5 percent were complaining again on the issue of group approach used by the ministry for them to acquire loan hence this lead to dishonest of other member which leads to challenges of loan repayment.
4.5.2 Challenges faced by women in carrying out their business.
Table 4.4 showing problems faced by women
problems Frequency Percentage
competition 5 12.5
Market 12 30
Council bills 4 10
Business mgt skills 4 10
No challenges 13 32.5
Fig 4.2 showing number of women facing challenges in carrying out their business.
In relation to information gathered, there are some challenges faced by women in carrying out their business activities as highlighted below. 12.5 percent of the participants faced challenges on competition, 30 percent of the beneficiaries faced challenges on market problems, and 10 percent of the respondents also faced challenges on council bills which are too expensive for them as small entrepreneurs. Last but not least 10 percent faced challenges on lack of business management skills. Moreover 32.5 percent of the respondents said they did not face any challenge on carrying out their business activities.
Ward coordinators from ward 4, 5 and 6 pointed out that most women engaged in an project because her friend had already in that business with enough research on market analysis hence this is the major cause of market failure. To add on, WDCs of both wards goes on by saying since these women were duplicating project activities hence this resulted in the birth of stiff competition among themselves. Again these ward development coordinator said that, even these beneficiaries were pre-trained before they received their loans, some of them had faced challenges due to lack of business management skills which was caused by different levels of literacy rate among them.
4.5.3. Challenges in loan repayment.
Table 4.5 number of participants and their challenges in loan repayment
Challenges frequency Percent
With challenges 7 17.5
Without challenges 33 82.5
Fig 4.3 showing challenges faced by women in loan repayment
Basing on the information retrieved from POSB manager and the DDO, WDCs of ministry of women affairs, gender and community development, there are some challenges in terms of loan repayment due to mismanagement of funds, non-performance of their projects and dishonest by some of group members who defaulted. A very good example given by the DDO is one group by its name Chisungo in ward 5 which was into poultry production acquired broiler chicks which were substandard and they failed to grow hence the group did not sail through as expected leading to non-payment. The staff members also highlighted that in ward 15 wake up group also failed to clear their loan since one of the members relocated to Harare and failed to owner her obligations. They went on by highlighting that members were also required to deposit their monthly repayments into POSB account which was only accessible at wedza centre, hence it meant extra transport costs for members outside wedza centre which affected their repayment.
Therefore DDO added that out of the twenty-six groups funded in the district to the tune of $45 600 from 2010 to 2017 twenty groups managed to pay back whilst five groups defaulted leaving an outstanding amount of $3 315-19. This means that there is an outstanding balance of 7.26 % of the amount disbursed since 2010 up to date and 92.74 % of the amount were paid back. The DDO said that, to avert the challenges, the following actions were taken: making monthly project monitoring visits by WDCs and encouraging women to pay whilst ensuring project viability and members were into mutual guarantying hence in case of defaulters or abscondment the present members were compelled to pay.
Efforts to make WDF accessible
The DDO pointed out that equitable allocation of available budget to all 15 wards in the district, the ward is made the entry point or level for identification of projects to be funded, ward development coordinators shall convene meetings with the ward development committees for the identification and adjudication of projects and traditional leadership shall be involved in project identification and the use of various platforms’ including local gatherings to call or request for submission of project proposals.
The DDO also noted that certain amendments needs to be done as follows: borrowing should be individualistic rather than group borrowing as some members are dishonest and discourages others from borrowing, enough time should be given to participants to prepare their documentation as rushing deadlines for submission of proposals leaves other prospective borrowers behind and the focus should not only be on ongoing projects as other women may not have already running projects due to lack of access to capital but they may have the ideas and means of production such as land.
5.0 Conclusions and recommendations
The aim of the research was to assess the impacts of women development fund towards poverty alleviation and women empowerment in wedza district. Hence this study comprises with the summery of the study from the start to the end of this research study. Conclusions driven from the findings of the research will follow the and ended by recommendations given by the researcher to the government through ministry of women affairs, gender and community development which is currently named as ministry of youth and women affairs so as for them to achieve their goal of empowering women in all dimensions empowerment through effective disbursement of WDF.
In short, looking at the impacts of women development fund towards poverty alleviation and women empowerment in wedza district. The study had proved that the status of women in wedza ha improved. WDF had managed to empower women in the following dimensions as follows: economically since most women who benefited WDF and boosted their projects hence their income per month had increased with an average of 30 to 60 %, again results from this showed that women were also socially, politically and legal empowered as well as psychologically empowered too. This evidenced by most of the beneficiaries are now able to pay school fees for their children even at tertiary education, buy enough food for the family, women are also involved in decision making positions at household and community level. Hence there is an improvement in women empowerment which was triggered by women development fund.
However, WDF has also encountered by some challenges since the researcher had found that the amount of money disbursed to women were inadequate, waiting period after applying the loan were too long, transport and processing cost were too expensive since POSB was only the bank which was responsible for the disbursement of the WDF on behalf of the ministry of women affair, gender and community development. According to the findings of the study, the researcher also noted that other beneficiaries had faced challenges in the day to day operations of the business. Although WDF was accompanied with some hindrances during its course of life, through the evidence from the research it shows that women development fund has managed to empower women in Wedza district and their family and community as a whole. This was supported by other scholars that says if you empower a woman it means you have empower the family and community as a whole.
5.3.1. The government through the ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development which is now Ministry of Women and Youth Affairs should extend its mobilization in terms of passing over information about the availability of WDF on how and where to apply.
5.3.2. The ministry should boast its resources allocation towards the WDF especially increased provisions of the personnel mainly ward development co-ordinators and transport to ensure that the projects are properly monitored to make these projects succeed so that loans are repaid and more women will benefit since WDF is a revolving fund. Staff members will work hard in order to link women with market.
5.3.3. The ministry of WAGCD and POSB personnel should work together to provide full financial services and facilities including training and capacity building of project members in order to develop their competences and productivity and avoid the inadequacy of the funds.
5.3.4. The ministry of WAGCD and POSB personnel should also review the 10 % interests that are charged to beneficiaries going downwards so that the facility end up taking more from marginalised women is supposed to empower.
5.3.5. There is need to create market linkages and market networking to avoid market failure. For example all those in horticultural and poultry should be linked to pick n pay and other big supermarkets and restaurants.
5.3.6. The ministry should lease with different banks which can be easily accessed by women for example Agribank or even using their already opened accounts to reduce monopolising and other expenses of opening a new bank accounts.
5.3.7. There is need for early delivering of loans to clients applied so that there would meet their settee targets and avoids multiple roles to women. For example if loans are to be disbursed in October onwards mostly in summer season women were mostly engaged in farming activities, hence this will lead to fund diversion.
5.3.8. There is need to decentralise powers of disbursement of funds to district levels in order to reduce costs of transport to beneficiaries since some of them were complaining about transport and processing cost.