Poverty and women's empowerment: Exploring the gender-poverty nexus in South Asia

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Authors

Sohal, Ramanjeet

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University of Guelph

Abstract

This thesis investigates if, and how, poverty alleviation schemes are able to empower poor women. The thesis brings forth empirical evidence from a CARE India micro-finance project called Credit and Savings for Household Enterprise (CASHE). Field research for the thesis, which was carried out in three eastern Indian states, sought to identify and understand the obstacles to "mainstreaming gender" within the CASHE project. The methodology adopted for the research was comprised of qualitative research techniques. Structured interviews were conducted with the CASHE development workers and focus group interviews were carried out with poor women in the CASHE Self-Help Groups. The research fills a critical gap in the evaluative micro-finance literature by bringing forth the voices and experiences of poor women involved in the micro-finance project. The research further illuminates that the struggle to combat women's poverty cannot be divorced from the struggle to combat gender inequality, and moreover that tackling women's poverty is not the same as tackling gender inequality.

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Keywords

poverty, poverty alleviation, empowerment, women, South Asia

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