The creation of the women’s poverty-empowerment nexus in development discourses has legitimized the widespread use of microfinance. Despite the success of microfinance in supplying credit, the evidence to suggest it has substantially reduced poverty and increased women’s empowerment is mixed. This thesis examines the link between trends in the global political economy, microfinance, and gender. To reveal this link, a critical discourse analysis of development discourses and a content analysis of impact studies of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and BancoSol in Bolivia are employed to assess the gap between rhetoric and impacts of microfinance. Insights gained from Tanzania provide a deeper understanding as to why, despite the success of microfinance in delivering credit, poverty and gender inequality persist. This research reveals that far from addressing economic and social inequality, microfinance exists and functions within gendered power structures and relationships rather than resolving them.
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Thesis advisor: Zaman, Habiba
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