Empowering and shaping gender relations? Contesting the microfinance–gender empowerment discourse

Thomas Yeboah, Albert Arhin, Emmanuel Kumi, Lucy Owusu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article critically examines the role of microfinance in shaping gender relations and empowerment outcomes for women. One aim of advancing credit to women is to empower them, thereby increasing their bargaining power and challenging existing gender subordination. We caution against this view and instead show that the mainstream argument is much more complex than what the popular rhetoric preaches. We argue that lack of a systematic strategy to incorporate men and the wider socio-cultural dynamics within which women are domiciled radically constrain the empowerment potential of microcredit programmes, and in some contexts may lead to unintended consequences for women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-908
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopment in Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender and diversity
  • Labour and livelihoods – Microfinance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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