Empowerment of women through microfinance in Jabdi Village Committee,Nepal
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During the last three decades, microfinance has been advocated as being a powerful means to alleviate poverty and socio-economic development. Further, it has been recognised as an effective tool for empowering women. However, some studies have highlighted the adverse result on empowering effect of microfinance programs. This study is to identify the role of microfinance in empowering rural women in Jabdi VDC, Sarlahi District, Nepal. Small Farmer Cooperative Limited (SFCL) model was chosen among the various models of microfinance, since it serves poor farmers of rural areas. The study analysed whether the Jabdi SFCL has made an empowering effect on participating women in the area. Qualitative method was used in the study for data collection. Fifty respondents were interviewed; focus group discussions were conducted to investigate the empowering effect of Jabdi SFCL Program. The findings of the study reveal that the Jabdi SFCL has taken the initiation to empower women. Most of the respondent realized a significant difference in the level of confidence, ability to communicate and make a decision, and acknowledgment by family. On the other hand, it was also found that most of the women borrowers had not control over the loan as their husband or male members had control over the loan. Moreover the loan was used as means to cover the necessary cash shortage of household and there were no any significant change in the gender relations in families except for few cases. The conservative patriarchy society, poverty and illiteracy directly challenge the strategies of the Jabdi SFCL in empowering women. The study also suggests the SFCL to invest the agriculture friendly industry to provide employment opportunities to women in the Jabdi VDC.