The Impact of Lending to Women on Household Vulnerability and Women's Empowerment: Evidence from India
Summary Impact evaluation studies routinely find that lending to women benefits their households. However, a number of them also find that this may not empower the women concerned. This seemingly paradoxical conclusion is confirmed by our study with respect to a lending program in rural India. We investigate this result by examining a combination of loan-use data and borrower-testimonies. We find that loans procured by women are often diverted into enhancing household's assets and incomes. This combined with woman's lack of co-ownership of family's productive assets, we conclude, results in her disempowerment. If empowering women is a crucial objective, then the patriarchal hold on productive assets must be challenged.
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