From the Introduction:

Literally, ‘empowerment’ is seen to relate to the user’s power. It involves undoing negative social constructions, so that the people affected can perceive themselves as having the capacity and the right to act and have influence (Rowlands, 1995:102). Rao and Kelleher (1995:70) define women’s empowerment as “the capacity of women to be economically self-sufficient and self-reliant with control over decisions affecting their life options and freedom from violence”. In the existing socio-cultural milieu of Bangladesh, embodied within the phrase of ‘empowerment’ is the concept of change. The development activities of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) in Bangladesh lead empowerment in its social as well as economic dimensions. NGOs have made their micro-credit programme accessible to women because they are more poor and vulnerable than men are. It is now evident that the benefits gained from micro-credit are not only for women but are passed through children and men as well. Hashemi, et al. (1996) shows that participation in credit programmes is positively associated with a woman’s level of empowerment defined as a function of her relative physical mobility, economic security, ability to make various purchases on her own, freedom from domination and violence within the family, political and legal awareness, and participation in public protests and political campaigning (ADB, 1997:15).

Author Biography

Dilruba Banu is Senior Staff Sociologist, Fehmin Farashuddin is Research Sociologist, Altaf Hossain is Senior Staff Sociologist, and Shahnuj Akter is Staff Economist at Research and Evaluation Division of BRAC in Bangladesh.