Rural women and micro-credit schemes. Cases from the Lawra District of Ghana.

Thesis by Gilbert Ansoglenang  

In an attempt to alleviate poverty and empower poor people, many NGOs and government line agencies have been providing credit and social services to rural women in the Lawra District of Ghana. The essence of these credit schemes is to help the rural poor, especially women, earn a decent living through their on-going income generating activities (IGA). The study emphasized that rural women play an important role in the provision of domestic welfare. Many women resort to multiple occupations in order to satisfy the welfare needs of their household members. While these women are engaged in several paid activities simultaneously, they still perform their unpaid and gendered domestic activities. It was realized that women have assumed certain household responsibilities, which were formerly men’s gender roles, such as providing money and other material resources for house keeping. These added responsibilities have afforded rural women a rare voice in household decision-making processes. A derived benefit of empowered women was that they spoke for their men folks; women advocated for jobs and credit schemes for men in their communities. The study concluded that micro-credit schemes help reduce rural poverty and empower women. Despite the enhanced and visible roles assumed by these women due to the credit schemes, there were serious operational lapses: the loans given to the women were inadequate to start and run any viable IGA, leading these social actors to refer to the loans as ‘chop money’ and not ‘business money’ (money sufficient to start with a viable business). Lack of formal education, time, improved technology and ready market for products, which often run down rural enterprises, still persisted and thereby reducing the women’s current productivity relative to their evident potentials. In the light of this, inter alia, the study made the following recommendation towards the empowerment of women: an appreciable increase in the loans, prioritizing girl-child education, developing and encouraging the use of appropriate technology, and engendering the loan scheme or helping rural women side-by-side their men folk.

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