Microfinance and Women’s Empowerment: Bringing Transformations through Dialogic Accounting
About the project
Women’s empowerment, a foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world, is a key microfinance objective achieved by providing small loans to poor people mainly in developing countries. Notwithstanding highly publicised success stories, microfinance is controversial. Feminist and development scholars claim that promoters of microfinance often gloss over its ‘dark side’, e.g., by putting intense pressure on borrowers to recover loans, leading to new forms of dominance over women (Wright, 2006). Despite a rich academic and policy literature on microfinance, these challenging questions remain.
This project aims to address challenging questions such as what is meant by women’s empowerment, how should it be pursued and on whose terms? How do conventional accounting and accountability systems in microfinance organisations reinforce structural barriers disempowering women? How can accounting, traditionally (though questionably) seen as an apolitical, managerial tool, contribute to female empowerment?
About the researchers
This project brings together a variety of disciplines.
Dr Farzana Tanima, Lecturer (ECR) at the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, in the Faculty of Business will collect, analyse and summarise data, with particular attention being paid to reflecting on the limits of conventional accounting practices. (Expertise: Accounting and Accountability, Microfinance and NGOs)
Vera Mackie, Prof. of Asian Studies and Director of the Centre for Critical Human Rights Research in the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts (currently engaged in a collaborative project on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) will be involved in theoretical development, particularly regarding Asia, gender and culture.
Jan Wright, Emeritus Professor in the School of Education, in the Faculty of Social Sciences, will advise on feminist and post-structuralist theory, dialogic pedagogy, and research methodology, especially using photo-voice and story-telling.
Gordon Waitt, Prof. of Human Geography and Head of School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, in the Faculty of Social Sciences will work on theoretical and methodological development, particularly regarding the gendered and class embodiments implicated within the power hierarchies in microfinances space(s).
Prof. Judy Brown (a pioneer of dialogic accounting theory) from Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) will advise on project management, publication strategies, the research’s progress, and cross-disciplinary theory development.
Prof. Trevor Hopper (an expert on accounting and development) from Sussex University (SU) and VUW will provide general feedback and foster contacts with development studies academics, especially at the SU (which houses IDS).