Women Empowerment or Disempowerment? A Case Study of a Social Microfinance’s Activities and Gender Relations in Rizal Province
Women’s empowerment has been at the center of the development discourse as one of the eight declared Millennium Development Goals. To date, an increasing number of development organizations are focusing on helping poor women achieve economic sustainability, and social enterprise in its microfinance scheme is playing a leading role in providing women with needed capabilities to increase their agency in the development process. The success of microfinance in empowering women today has been a debatable subject in the economic and development realms, thus leading to a need to reassess some of the microfinance claims. How does it really empower women? In which ways can microfinance assistance lead to an unintended and unfavorable effect of the disempowerment of women? To analyze and broaden existing understandings of women’s empowerment, this research qualitatively investigated the process of women empowerment through a selected case study of a social microfinance operating in Rizal province, Philippines, using combined sociological and anthropological methods.