Development Initiatives’ Impact on Women’s Empowerment : A Field Study on a Business Training and Microcredit Program in Kenya
Abstract: The primary goal of development organizations is poverty reduction, but their initiatives have in recent years also been recognized as a potential tool in empowering women and raising their status. Previous knowledge on the topic is largely based in an understanding of empowerment that seems to miss or overlook limitations and impacts of initiatives which authors with a more feminist view on empowerment address. Thus, this thesis aims to increase the understanding of women’s empowerment in relation to development initiatives. A case study focusing on women who had previously participated in the business training and microcredit program of an NGO in Nairobi, Kenya was conducted. The study shows that through development organizations’ various initiatives women can be empowered on a personal and a collective level. For instance, the women’s self-confidence has increased and they see themselves as entitled to do things on their own, such as running a business. Further, through coming together as a group they gain access to new spaces and agency to act on their collective interests. However, little evidence of women’s empowerment on a relational level is seen. The study also shows that there are economic and gender-related barriers constraining the empowerment process.
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