Microfinance and Violence against Women

27 April 2010 at 04:22 12 comments

Generally when I escape to the Beirut Corniche to go running, I try to avoid making contact with the young lovers sharing a romantic moment in their parked cars. However, on this particular day I could not help but get involved as I saw a brawny man repeatedly and violently beating the crying veiled woman sitting in his car. She tried to get out. He locked the door. She was hunched next to the window trembling in fear pleading him to stop. He told her to shut up.

There was an army officer with a huge machine gun trying to speak with the man. I yelled at the officer to help get the woman out of the car. He (not surprisingly) ignored me. Eventually the officer convinced them to leave. That was it. I could only imagine what this woman would face later. I yelled at the officer and asked why he didn’t do more? What good were his bulging muscles and oversized gun if he could not help this woman? He responded very matter-of-factly, what more can I do?  It’s his wife.

I yelled back saying that it didn’t matter if it was his wife, sister, mother, or a stranger on the street. In any case, it was wrong. He mumbled back and reluctantly agreed that it was wrong. He really just wanted me to be on my way.  This just happened to be in Lebanon, but it was a powerful reminder of how violence against women is all too often tolerated and encouraged in the Middle East and around the world.

In March, the Economist published an article about Arab women’s rights. It included a survey of 15,000 Egyptian youth in 2009: “67% of female respondents believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she speaks to another man”.

I have to say I am not surprised by the Economist’s report. When I was living in Egypt I witnessed a woman get slapped by her husband in the middle of a crowded mall. She had wanted him to buy medicine for their son. On another occasion, I heard the wails of a young girl getting lashed by a belt when visiting a friend in one of Cairo’s poorer neighborhoods. Apparently her brother was beating her, presumably for talking to a boy without permission. In both cases, no one said anything, did anything.

Kiva supports women all over the world. A borrower from Lebanon.

I myself fell victim to violence from a partner in Egypt.  After more than a year in the relationship, I found myself begging for my life, pinned against a wall being choked by a man who I had once considered so sweet and kind. The doorman stood by watching. He also said nothing, did nothing. My boyfriend at the time said with a wicked smile, “can’t you see? No one is going to help you because you are the woman and I am the man”. Sadly, in that moment, he was right. Fortunately I was able to escape and leave this abusive relationship.

So how can we change our societies to say something, do something? How can we take women out of the violence equation?


Well, not just microfinance. It will take a multi-sectoral approach. But there is sufficient data to suggest that women’s economic empowerment (through microfinance) can help reduce partner and targeted violence.

Over 80% of entrepreneurs supported by Kiva are women. A borrower from Kenya.

Although it should be noted that women may face greater safety risks in the short-term until governments and communities are educated about and comfortable with microfinance programs.

A 2004 report by members of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) notes that “increased contributions of resources to household led to increased self-worth and declining levels of tension and violence” for SEDF (a microfinance organization) clients in Bangladesh. It also found that microfinance “program participation led to increased self-confidence and improved status within the community” for Freedom from Hunger clients in Bolivia and Ghana.

The CGAP research team surveyed 1300 households in Bangladesh and found that:

  • Women with loans were less likely to be beaten;
  • Women with schooling were less likely to be beaten;

    Microfinance can lead to social empowerment for women. Kiva borrowers in Pakistan.

  • Non-microfinance women were 3 times more likely to be beaten than Grameen clients and 2 times more likely than BRAC clients (Grameen and BRAC are two of the largest microfinance organizations in the world).

A 2007 study on the Intervention with Microfinance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) in South Africa found that:

  • After 2 years, the risk of past-year physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner was reduced by more than half;
  • Reductions in violence resulted from a range of responses enabling women to challenge the acceptability of violence, expect and receive better treatment from partners, leave abusive relationships, and raise public awareness about intimate partner violence;
  • The findings, both qualitative and quantitative, indicate that economic and social empowerment of women can contribute to reductions in intimate partner violence.

Through its work, Kiva has invested in over 270,000 women entrepreneurs. Although the world may not be getting any kinder, women are getting stronger and fighting back—with microfinance as their weapon.

Nishita Roy is a Kiva Fellow (Class 10) serving in Lebanon. Get involved with Kiva’s Lebanon partners, Ameen s.a.l. and Al Majmoua, today! Invest in one of Kiva’s female borrowers right now!

*Please note that women pictured are to show some of Kiva’s women borrowers, but does not in any way suggest that they have suffered from domestic or partner violence.

Entry filed under: Africa, Al Majmoua- Lebanese Association for Development, All, Ameen, Americas, blogsherpa, Countries, East Asia & the Pacific (EAP), Eastern Europe & Central Asia (EECA), KF10 (Kiva Fellows 10th Class), Kiva Field Partners, Lebanon, Middle East & North Africa (MENA), South Asia. Tags: , , , , , , .

Kiva Fellowship Survival Guide Why would a 61 year old married father of two want to be a Kiva Fellow?


  • 1. Larry B.S. Taylor  |  1 June 2010 at 04:02

    We are of the convention that the SOUL-Children in the Pipeline Redlit Community, want to assist the children of the community. so we appeal for any assistance on building up the peace of the community in order them from doing or carry out bad behaivor.

    Larry B. S. Taylor
    Programme Coordinator

  • 2. clement stephens  |  10 May 2010 at 04:53

    ANPPCAN Liberia
    Khoueiri Building, Broad and Johnson Streets
    P. O. Box 6794,
    Monrovia, Liberia

    We are seeking partnership and collaboration in strengthening our capacity technically and financially to prevent and respond to violence against women and children. We would also be interested in learning and sharing experiences between our two organizations. Please find below background information on ANPPCAN Liberia. We are available if you need further information.
    Best regards.


    The African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and neglect (ANPPCAN) Liberia Chapter, was founded in the late 2001. It is the national chapter of ANPPCAN, a pan-African child rights organization founded in 1986 in Enugu Nigeria , with the head office in Nairobi , Kenya . It is legally registered in Liberia as a national Non-Governmental and Non-profit Organization.

    Our mission is to enhance child rights protection through building capacities of the local communities, professional groups and governments to protect their own children.

    1.1 To actualize this mission, ANPPCAN Liberia carries out activities aimed at achieving the following objectives: –

     To promote education as a basic right of children.

     To convene and participate in national, regional (continental) and international forums dealing with promotion of the rights of children.

     To enhance awareness on child rights and child protection in Liberia

     To promote safe drinking water and sanitation in schools and communities

     To combat the worst forms of child labour
     Share best practices emerging from successful programs implemented by sister ANPPCAN Chapters in Africa

     Advocate for non-discrimination of children based on gender and disability.

     To combat HIV/AIDS through promoting preventive measures and mobilize community support of children orphaned through death of parents related to the syndrome.

     Mobilize communities to child protection through supporting creation of child protection teams and training on community organizing, child rights.

     Enhance child participation in decision making that affect them

     Advocate for enabling policy environment for implementation of child protection programs.

     To promote the rights of women against Gender Based Violence

    1.2 Since its inception in 2001, ANPPCAN Liberia has made notable accomplishments, which include:

     Previous efforts by ANPPCAN to address issues of child abuse and neglect in Liberia include a Sub-Regional Conference on Children in Situation of Armed Conflict in West Africa, March, 1996, Monrovia , Liberia , organized in partnership with YMCA Liberia
     Successfully advocated for ratification of the ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor in 2002 by the Liberian government.
     Media advocacy on child rights and child protection through regular radio programs
     Creation of child rights clubs in schools and communities
     Held regular training sessions for peer counselors on child rights
     Trained UN Civilian Police as trainers on child rights and child protection.
     Training of the New Liberian Police Service on child protection
     Develop a training manual on child rights and child protection for use by the Liberia Police Academy and eventual infusion into the regular police-training curriculum.
     Developed Guidelines for the Police on Child Rights, Child Protection and Juvenile Justice
     Advocate on Education for All in partnership with other Liberian NGOs (Liberia National Campaign on EFA)
     Training on human rights (child rights component) for the ex-combatants in the cantonment sites in the DDRR process of 2004.
     Advocate for Policy on Child Labour through membership in the National Commission on Child Labour Monitoring and Management
     Advocate for early childhood education through membership in the National Task Force on Integrated Early Childhood Development
     Carried out hygiene promotion in 19 public schools in Montserrado County with support from UNICEF
     Established Child Friendly Neighborhood Assemblies in Montserrado, Margibi and Bomi Counties in promoting the rights of children with support from the Norwegian Human Rights Fund 2005
     Continued participation in the ANPPCAN South South Exchange of Personnel Program from 2003 – Present
     Carried out Rapid Assessment on the situation of children on rubber farms in Bomi, Margibi and Bong Counties with support form UNICEF 2005
     Conducted children dialogue on Africa fit for Children in Liberia , with support of the African Union
     Cassava production for single mothers in rural Montserrado County with partnership with US Embassy, 2007 – present
     Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Schools in Montserrado County with support from UNICEF 2006 – Present
     Awareness Raising on the Rape and Inheritance Laws among community members and police officers, 2007 -2008 with support from UNIFEM
     Enhancing Women Friendly Policing among Internal Security Officers and Community Members, 2007 – 2009 with support from UNIFEM
     Human Rights Youth Participation Project, with support from UNDP Human Rights Act Project, 2009
     Monitoring, reporting and documentation of child rights, (still seeking partnership)
     Support for HIV/AIDS Orphans, Households, and vulnerable children, 2008 – present
     Child Labor Campaign 2006 – Present

    ANPPCAN Liberia are audited annually (internally) and upon request by donors (externally).


     With over the years of existence, ANPPCAN Liberia has cumulative wealth of experience and expertise on child and women rights.

     Over the years ANPPCAN Liberia has developed well-established linkages with local, regional and international partners.

     ANPPCAN Liberia is already undertaking innovative programs which have potential for replication in other communities.

     ANPPCAN Liberia has competent human resource persons who run and manage various programs.

     ANPPCAN Liberia has an existing office with the necessary operational infrastructure.

     ANPPCAN Liberia has a network capability to reach out to other African countries through its 18 Chapters and share best practices with potential for replication.


    There are a number of potential opportunities open to ANPPCAN Liberia for extending its services over the next five years in the field of child rights and protection. These opportunities include the following:-

     Undertaking research and documentation on child and women issues
     Providing training services
     Advocacy on child and women rights
     Food security through grass root agriculture program
     Develop programs that address the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and women
     Protection of children and women with disabilities
     Expansion and scaling up of existing of programs
     Monitoring and following up child and women rights violations
     Provision of consultancy services

    During the Plan period, ANPPCAN Liberia will strive to get the following targets achieved at the national organization level:-

     A well established and effective national organization with its own office premises.

     A well established unit of research work, documentation and publications accessible to all stakeholders.

     A well established training facility capable of meeting child and women rights and community organization training needs.

     Mobilize communities in Liberia towards prevention of HIV/AIDS and support for patients and orphans.

     Community agriculture programs through out Liberia in reducing poverty

     Research/ situational analysis of children and women with disability and sexual reproductive health of adolescents.

     Safe drinking water and hygiene promotion programs in all the counties of Liberia

     Improved access to education for girl children and children living with disability

     Help Line Service to monitor, report and follow up child right violations


    For ANPPCAN Liberia to realize the expected situation by 2011, the following assumptions have been made:-

     Funds will be available to meet the implementation costs

     Staff with required capability will be available for assignment of necessary duties in relevant programs

     Partner organization will co-operate in the implementation of specific programs

     The Government will provide the political will necessary for implementation of child rights programs

     Continued political and economic stability in Liberia .

    The target beneficiaries of ANPPCAN Liberia will be:-

     Child and women victims of abuse, exploitation and neglect and their families and those at risk. They will be offered preventive and protective services through ANPPCAN Liberia national referral system network in various counties.

     Staff from organizations and institutions which handle children and women issues. These officers will be sensitized on their rights to enable them provide the required child protection measures.

     Professionals who deal with children will be made aware of the rights of minorities, violations, and services available to support victims of abuse and neglect and the need for them to be involved in protecting them with the hope that they can integrate protection into their regular work programs.

     ANPPCAN Liberia professional staff will be further trained to run and manage programs addressing emerging issues in advocacy and protection. The professional staff will be instrumental in designing innovative related programs with potential for replication in other African countries.

     Local communities will be empowered to handle protection issues.


    During the Plan period, ANPPCAN Liberia will pursue this mission through focusing on the following strategic objectives:-

     To strengthen its financial base for sustainability of the organization.

     To enhance its human resource base for effective and efficient service delivery.

     To promote a conducive environment for protection and WASH initiatives.

     To develop and strengthen linkages and networks for promotion of rights of women and children in Liberia.

     To facilitate access to its products/services for the benefit of target beneficiaries, children and women in need.

     To link with other groups and organizations with similar intentions.

     To strengthen and expand research and information on child abuse and exploitation issues for easy access by stakeholders.


    The Strategic Planning Implementation Committee will meet in the last month of each quarter to review the progress on implementation of the Plan. During the meetings, the implementation team will be expected to table quarterly progress reports. These reports should show, among other points, the outputs achieved, problems encountered, lessons learnt and future action required.

    There will be an annual evaluation of all the programs preferably in November of each year. It is recommended that a mid-period evaluation be carried out by external evaluators.

  • 3. anothergradstudentcliche  |  3 May 2010 at 23:02

    Nish! You’re kicking ass and taking names, as usual. You’re amazing, keep it up! Also, I have “Half the Sky” if you want to borrow it once you’re back on this side of the pond.

  • 4. Charity  |  30 April 2010 at 16:08

    The statistics and stories you share about abuse are heart breaking! I can’t imagine what it would be like to grow up in a society that takes violence against people so unseriously! I am glad to hear that we are helping to break the cycle of violence with microfinace loans.

  • 5. Nishita Roy  |  27 April 2010 at 23:10

    Thanks to KF10er, Mary Riedel, for showing another blog post related to microfinance and how it can help vulnerable communities: http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/2009/11/17/using-microfinance-to-combat-human-trafficking-spotlight-on-katie-davis-kf7/

  • 6. Nishita Roy  |  27 April 2010 at 22:19

    Thank you all for your comments. Hope we can all do our part to support women borrowers and reduce partner violence! KF9 Fellow in Palestine had also referenced a study on how microfinance can help reduce gender violence: http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/2009/12/14/women-microfinance-and-the-middle-east/

  • 7. Sara  |  27 April 2010 at 20:34

    Touching post Nishita, thanks for sharing.

  • 8. CarlosCM  |  27 April 2010 at 15:18

    Great post and thanks for sharing! Along with empowerment, I believe the education and example these women give their children and relatives will help reduce the problem… just like microfinance one loan and one woman at a time.

  • 9. espinoza8  |  27 April 2010 at 13:32

    Great post Nishita! The empowerment of individuals for the respect of basic human rights is possibly the most important result of economic development. Stay safe.

  • 10. monicahamlett  |  27 April 2010 at 13:24

    That gave me the chills, you are an incredible woman, thank you for posting this!

  • 11. katimayfield  |  27 April 2010 at 11:45

    you are so strong to post this, Nishita – thank you!

  • 12. Leigh Madeira  |  27 April 2010 at 05:20

    Really moving post…you should read Half the Sky if you haven`t already!

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