The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty
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The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty

Concepts, Research, Policy

Edited by Sylvia Chant

In the interests of contextualising (and nuancing) the multiple interrelations between gender and poverty, Sylvia Chant has gathered writings on diverse aspects of the subject from a range of disciplinary and professional perspectives, achieving extensive thematic as well as geographical coverage. This benchmark volume presents women’s and men’s experiences of gendered poverty with respect to a vast spectrum of intersecting issues including local to global economic transformations, family, age, ‘race’, migration, assets, paid and unpaid work, health, sexuality, human rights, and conflict and violence.
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Chapter 88: ‘A Woman and an Empty House are Never Alone For Long’: Autonomy, Control, Marriage and Microfinance in Women’s Livelihoods in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Caroline Sweetman


Caroline Sweetman Introduction Feminist thought on the empowerment of women emphasises the importance of women being able to perceive their interests as individuals. Some see the attainment of autonomy from relatives and the household as virtually synonymous with empowerment (see, for example, Jejeebhoy, 1996). Feminist debates about awareness of oneself as an individual possessing distinct interests are matched by debates about the importance of women independently controlling resources, enabling them to put choices into action (Kabeer, 1999). Development from a feminist perspective typically tries to expand women’s awareness of the potential choices open to them, often through dialogue with outsiders and with each other. It also typically boosts women’s livelihoods activities by channelling material resources to them. It is important from the point of view of fostering female autonomy that women invest in their own independent activities, in order to attain economic independence from men in their families and communities. This chapter draws on research into the impact on women’s livelihoods, poverty and empowerment of a microfinance project in Kechene, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, implemented by the international religious charity the Daughters of Charity, and funded by Oxfam GB. The research took place in 2002 and 2003, with a follow-up visit in 2006. Craftswork and its importance in Kechene Kechene is a hilly location on the northern outskirts of Addis Ababa. Its inhabitants are first- and second-generation rural-to-urban migrants: Amhara people from Northern Shoa, and Dorzae from the south. These are craftsworkers, whose skills offer them an economic comparative advantage in...

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