Gendered poverty and education: Moving beyond access to expanding freedoms through microfinance policy in India and Australia

Archana Preeti Voola

Abstract


Microfinance has been recognized globally as a poverty alleviating strategy and particularly as a gender equality enhancing approach. There have been immense, intense and nuanced debates in the field of international development, feminist studies and comparative social policy regarding the role of microfinance in addressing gendered poverty. This paper provides an account of these debates and the conceptual and theoretical perspectives underpinning them. These debates are used as a way to frame the dominant understandings of the relationship between gendered poverty and education in the context of microfinance policies and practices. These global discourses are interrogated against particular representations of the same by consumers of microfinance. In other words, employing narratives of 27 in-depth interviews with consumers of microfinance and their kin from India and Australia, the paper highlights how global discourses are contested in the local everyday lives of poor women and men. By doing so, the paper calls for re-casting educational goals, in poverty alleviation and gender equality strategies, as moving beyond access for women to expanding freedoms of women and men. 


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