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Women's Empowerment through Sustainable Microfinance: Rethinking "Best Practice"
This paper argues that there is a need for a serious rethinking of many currently accepted “tenets of Best Practice” in the light of existing evidence of gender impact. There is evidence of significant potential for microfinance to enable women to challenge and change gender inequalities at all levels if there is a strategic gender focus. There have also been many important recent innovations in products and services to enable women to better benefit. Nevertheless benefits cannot be assumed and even financially sustainable microfinance if it is gender-blind may seriously disempower women and increase inequality. There is a need therefore to make gender “Best Practice” integral to microfinance design rather than afterthought.