Micro-finance and empowerment from a woman’s perspective: The effect of micro-finance on the empowerment of women in Bangladesh

Klara Haugen-Kossmann

Student thesis: Master thesis


The effect of micro-finance on the empowerment of women is a highly debated topic within development studies. It is difficult to determine the results of micro-finance, and often projects are criticized of not taking into account the voices of the target group. This thesis examines the effect of micro-finance on the empowerment of women through the case of the Bangladeshi NGO SUPOTH. The focus of the thesis is on women’s particular needs – their every-day practical needs and their more strategic needs such as gender equality within households. The thesis analyzes whether women themselves feel that their particular needs are fulfilled through micro-finance. Interviews with female participants from SUPOTH are therefore used as the main empirical data. The findings show that when women start saving money, and work with small businesses, their practical needs are fulfilled. The strategic needs of women are however not fully met through micro-finance, particularly within the area of household work, where traditional gender roles seem to prevail. Thus, it can be concluded that that women are not fully empowered through micro-finance, but still undergo tremendous progress, both individually and community-wise. Furthermore, the thesis illustrates that activities, such as awareness building and training programs, also play an important role in addition to micro-finance activities. It is argued that women are not able to achieve the same improvements in their lives without participating in such activities parallel to micro-finance. Finally, the thesis shows that to a certain extent, many women reproduce the vocabulary which they are taught by the NGO, and that the concept of empowerment is today utilized within all levels of development projects.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2008
Number of pages227