Mainstreaming Gender in Microfinance

A common misconception among microfinance institutions is that of considering programs and products gender-friendly by simply targeting female clients. INAFI Nepal believes that merely providing access to credit to women does not narrow the gender gaps that are found in most developing countries. Factors such as intra-household inequalities, decision-making patterns, and access to and control over resources must all be considered when designing programs to increase women’s financial independence. Similarly, microfinance institutions must promote gender equality within their organizations as well. Women’s involvement in governance as well as planning and implementation is pivotal in making organizational policies and programs gender-sensitive. Gender mainstreaming in microfinance involves a thoughtful analysis of a microfinance institution, its policies, programs, as well as products that can potentially affect men and women differently.

INAFI Nepal aims to provide responses and strategies for mainstreaming gender both at the client and institutional level of microfinance institutions and to reinforce gender equality and women’s empowerment as essential means to poverty alleviation.

To that end, INAFI Nepal's activities towards gender and microfinance focus on:

  • Enhancing the conceptualisation and strategy for gender mainstreaming in micro finance institutions and programs. 

  • Identifying key issues on gender mainstreaming in microfinance.

  • Making policy recommendations to mainstream gender in microfinance.

Since its inception, gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment have been integral parts of INAFI Nepal’s activities. INAFI Nepal has carried out assessments of gender mainstreaming status of member organizations by using gender checklist prepared by INAFI Asia. INAFI Nepal has also independently carried out studies and workshops at the regional as well as national levels to sensitize member and non-member organizations on the importance of gender mainstreaming. We are currently in the process of conducting an assessment of the empowerment status of microfinance beneficiaries in Chitwan and Morang districts.