Saturday, March 24, 2007

SEWA vs Grameen

One can hardly imagine a more paternalistic act than acknowledging the need for women's economic equality by making an award to a U.S.-trained, conservative male economist. This marginalizes the achievements of the world's first female-led microcredit organization, the Self-Employed Women's Association of India, known as SEWA.
Susan F. Feiner (director of women's studies and professor of economics at the University of Southern Maine) and Drucilla Barker (professor of economics and women's studies at Hollins University in Roanoke, Varginia) discuss Nobel Prize to Muhammad Yunus and whether micro-finance can completely take women out of poverty. They conclude:
Does the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Grameen Bank add credence to the neo-liberal myth of individuals escaping poverty merely through their own hard work? Yes. Do these programs help some women pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Yes. Will micro-enterprises do much to end widespread poverty among the world's poorest women? Not a chance.

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