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BRAC-ICDDR,B Joint Research Project Working Paper Series
Three studies on the effect of BRAC interventions on the lives of the poor women
Working Paper No. 28

Hassan Zaman
October - 1998

This paper addressed two current debates within the female empowerment literature using data from BRAC-ICDDR,B Joint research project at Matlab collected during April-July 1995. The first part explored the relationship between the socioeconomic. status of the household and female empowerment and concluded that the two are positively correlated. The second issue that was focused on was the extent that membership in BRAC and borrowing from the organization contributes to empowerment of poor women in Matlab. BRAC`s credit was the key input that was examined closely. A few tentative conclusions that can be derived from this work are: firstly, there appears to be a positive effect of BRAC`s credit on two of the knowledge/awareness indicators1 even after controlling for education variables. However, an obvious limitation of the data does not know whether any of the ‘knowledge` is actually put into practice. Nevertheless, greater legal and political awareness is argued to be an important step towards female empowerment in rural Bangladesh as it has the potential to augment a woman`s knowledge of her rights and entitlements within the household and in the community at large. Another broad conclusion that emerges from these results is the fact that greater amounts of borrowing enhance a woman`s control and decision-making power over her assets. The loan threshold after which the level of asset-control appears to rise significantly is 10000 taka for women in our Matlab sample. This result is argued to be significant due to the emphasis placed on female control over assets in both the intra-household bargaining literature and in various studies on female empowerment. Finally, the other factors that contribute to a woman`s empowerment were also those considered important in the literature namely marital status, contribution to household income and education.

 
 
 

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