Microcredit and the Discourse of Empowerment: A Case Study in Jinotega, Nicaragua

Kristen Norman : Interdisciplinary Studies Field

Mentor: Professor Nap Hosang

In an effort to narrow the gap in gender equality and improve public health, microfinance institutions are increasingly creating products for women in developing countries. Experts caution against assuming that women’s empowerment is an automatic outcome of microfinance, and call for accompanying “soft services” such as health education, literacy training, and discussion groups on domestic violence. Organizations offering such services have had great results. However, the majority of micro lending institutions are for-profit entities uninterested in offering these expensive social services. Kristen’s project investigates the dynamics of group lending and its ability to create female empowerment in the absence of these ideal “soft services.” She hypothesizes that the trust and solidarity created through group-oriented micro lending offers the social support needed to create women’s empowerment.