Handbook on the International Political Economy of Gender
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Handbook on the International Political Economy of Gender

Edited by Juanita Elias and Adrienne Roberts

This Handbook brings together leading interdisciplinary scholarship on the gendered nature of the international political economy. Spanning a wide range of theoretical traditions and empirical foci, it explores the multifaceted ways in which gender relations constitute and are shaped by global politico-economic processes. It further interrogates the gendered ideologies and discourses that underpin everyday practices from the local to the global. The chapters in this collection identify, analyse, critique and challenge gender-based inequalities, whilst also highlighting the intersectional nature of gendered oppressions in the contemporary world order.
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Chapter 18: Microfinance: empowering women and/or depoliticizing poverty?

Kenji Wada

Abstract

This chapter demonstrates how microfinance has served as a part of the neoliberal project that tends to legitimize the diminished role of the state by transforming female borrowers into self-sufficient entrepreneurial subjects. Prominent practitioners and advocates of microfinance claim that the expansion of microfinance lowers poverty levels and produces empowered self-sufficient women in rural areas while the growing critical literature on microfinance has also found evidence of its negative impacts on women. The chapter draws on these critical theorists – particularly those who use ethnographic approaches and the Foucauldian perspective. Their approaches enable us to explore the effects of power in relation to microfinance. The chapter elaborates on the argument that microfinance is a tool that places the burden of poverty reduction on the shoulders of poor women rather than empowering women to transform patriarchal society.

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