Women's empowerment and micro-finance programmes: strategies for increasing impact

The Small Enterprise Development Fund of the Department for International Development (DFID) of the British Government commissioned a literature review and held workshops, both co-ordinated by ActionAid UK, to assess the impact of micro-finance schemes on women's empowerment. Three broad approaches to micro-finance for women are identified as well as the constraints affecting impact in each case: approaches emphasising financial sustainability, integrated community development or feminist empowerment. The author provides a framework for assessing degrees of empowerment and presents a `minimal gender strategy' for micro-finance.