Credit to Credibility: Microcredit and Women's Agency

April 25, 2013
4:00 pm

Campus Center

Room: 904-908

UMass Amherst Campus

Handicap access available
Free admission
Center for Research on Families

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Research on Families’ Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series Presenting: Paromita Sanyal, Ph.D. Assistant Professor and PARK Sesquicentennial Fellow, Cornell University

Dr. Paromita Sanyal investigates the social impacts of microcredit programs on poor, rural women in developing countries and primarily focuses on women in India. She has found that there is a huge gap in the general understanding of whether and how these programs have their much-celebrated effect of economically and socially empowering women. Microcredit programs are adopted as a major poverty-alleviation strategy in increasingly more continents and countries, which now include Asia, Africa, Latin America, the U.S., and Eastern Europe.

Dr. Sanyal explores these programs to determine which factors successfully empower women; is it giving women exclusive access to uncollateralized loans that leads to this proclaimed outcome by remarkably transforming women into independent economic entrepreneurs? Or, is it the unanticipated mechanism of belonging to a non-kin, group-based network and participating in the groups’ associational life that sets forth a series of unintended consequences which lead to an overall improvement in women’s agency? Her findings largely debunk the conventional, standard assumptions about how microcredit empowers women.

The Center for Research on Families (CRF) is an endowed interdisciplinary research center in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  The Tay Gavin Erickson Lectures Series brings internationally recognized speakers with expertise in family research to campus each year. The lecture series began in 1999 through an endowment established in memory of Tay Gavin Erickson.