International Development Planning Review

‘I am a woman, what can I do?’ The challenges of targeting women in asset transfer programmes in Bangladesh

International Development Planning Review (2019), 41, (4), 495–516.

Abstract

Asset transfer programmes can be effective when working with the extreme poor, who are usually excluded from microfinance and other mainstream poverty alleviation programmes. As women are overrepresented amongst the extreme poor, they are often the targets of such programmes, yet the structural inequalities that lead to their poverty are deeply entrenched and may prevent them from maximising the potential benefits. This paper uses qualitative data gathered from beneficiaries of the Economic Empowerment of the Poorest Programme (EEP/Shiree) in Bangladesh to show that women’s preferences for livestock and home-based businesses are influenced by the constraints on their mobility and free time, as well as their confidence in their own abilities. It also explores how gender dynamics within the household can influence asset selection and therefore impact on the outcomes of asset selection programmes. The paper then goes on to question the ability of market-based poverty reduction strategies to empower extreme poor women given their inability to create the level of gender-transformative change necessary for them to be effective.

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Faulkner, Sally