WOMEN AND MICROFINANCE: CAN MICROFINANCE ASSIST WOMEN IN POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENT TO PREVENT A RETURN TO WAR?
Black, Zoe Marie
The predicament of women in impoverished, fragile, and post-conflict countries is a major problem that is hindering development in many parts of the world. In the post-conflict reconciliation attempts, women have often been ignored or excluded by assistance from local and international organizations. Recently, non-governmental organizations and other international groups are utilizing microcredit and small-scale lending programs in the world's most impoverished regions. This thesis evaluates the effectiveness of microfinance as a tool of post-conflict development to aid women in becoming self-sufficient and independent.This thesis examines the role of women in development by utilizing current literature, policy papers and data provided by non-governmental organizations. It reviews the history of microfinance, especially in programs aimed at women in post conflict development situations. It then analyzes and compares the impact of microcredit programs in the Sub-Saharan nations of Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Uganda. The final chapter of the thesis will offer a critique of microfinance and how it can be improved in the future. The methodology of this thesis brings together information from the study of post-conflict reconciliation, women's studies, and microeconomics in order to understand the future role of microfinance and women.A central theme of this thesis is that women should be considered to be an important and integral component of post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation, yet they have been often excluded from these programs. One of the most important human values addressed by this thesis is providing a voice and enhanced socio-economic status to women, which gives them the agency to determine their own futures. Ultimately, this thesis concludes that microfinance is a worthwhile tool for post-conflict development that has not been properly implemented. In the future, microfinance will need to provide traditional small loans while also assisting post-conflict women with establishing savings accounts, assisting with education expenses for their children, and reducing the burden of health care.
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