Although women have made up at least one half of the workforce in most countries since 2000, women still are paid less than men in every country in the world. This happens in both developing regions and also wealthy, developed regions. Inequality for women in the workforce isn’t just in wages, but in other areas like employment opportunities, decision-making, and holding managerial positions. A larger amount of women are becoming the sole bread winners of their families, but they still earn only 50 to 96 percent of men’s wages, depending on the country. In my opinion, working on achieving better access to education for girls would lead to empowerment and therefore more women entering the workforce. I am focusing on the country of Sudan for my final project. According to a report done by UNICEF, females take up only 31% of the labor force participation rate as of 2010.
Our assigned readings offered two viewpoints on the impact micro-loans have on self-sufficiency of women in the workforce. Naila Kabeer described the first side as being how women have little control over the loans that they receive. This is because the male is usually considered the sole breadwinner and head of the household in a lot of developing countries. Kabeer also included results from a study, where household violence arose after an inability to repay or get access to a loan occurred. The other side Kabeer described was a more positive viewpoint. It cited a study conducted, where the results showed that women who used their loans wisely and actively were more likely to have a role in decision-making in her household, whether or not it was with a husband. I agree with this more positive viewpoint. Although microloans aren’t necessarily successful every time they’re given out, I think that allowing women to receive these micro-loans will be another source of empowerment and that all the women in these countries should be able to have the chance to spend money the way they believe it should be spent to be more successful in life.
A country that I have studied extensively throughout this semester is Mali. Microfinance has been experimented on in Mali in the field of agriculture. After receiving unrestricted cash grants, farmers were able to achieve higher productivity and profits. This also lead to higher farm investments and expenditures. This was a relevant study because 80 percent of Mali citizens work in agriculture, where cash crops including cotton, maize, and groundnuts are grown.