The Great Debate UK

Transformative power of microfinance for women


mehta- Sheetal Mehta is CEO and founder of not for profit organization Shanti Microfinance. The opinions expressed are her own. You can follow her on Twitter. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.–

The women of the world still get the rawest deal. Throughout history, in places where life is tough for everyone, women still on average work for longer hours and take on the burden of the household chores.  In its Human Development Report, the United Nations Development Programme reported that 70 percent of the people living on less than $1 dollar (65 pence) per day are women.

Development specialists have known for a long time that increasing the income of women is essential to poverty alleviation. All over the world women have been shown to spend more of their income on their households than men, so that when they are helped, the lot of the whole family is improved.

One of the biggest problems preventing poor women from improving their position is a lack of access to credit.  If you are living on two dollars a day this doesn’t mean that you are paid this amount every morning.