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Curriculum Vitae

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York University
SPTH 6281: 3.0
Gender, Micro-finance, and Empowerment
Socio-Political Thought
Winter 2006

Course Director: Dr. Fahim Quadir
Office: 323 Founders College
Tel: 66937
E-mail: fquadir@yorku.ca
Office Hours: Tuesdays: 9:30 to 11-30 and by appointment

Class Room: McLaughlin College 101A
Wednesdays: 2:30pm-5:30pm

This graduate seminar course explores the linkage between the empowerment of marginalized communities, especially women, and micro-finance operations. Drawing upon the established cases of South Asian development NGOs, it examines the conflicting perspectives on the role of micro-enterprises in both fighting poverty and empowering women.

This course situates micro-finance programs in the broad context of globalization of production and finance simply to offer a comprehensive critique and review of the emerging literature on gender, micro-finance, and empowerment. It also aims to critically examine both academic and non-academic approaches, tools and methodologies that are used to evaluate the success and failure of micro-finance programs.

In reviewing a range of relevant assessment tools – from such donor funded micro-finance impact assessments as Outcome Mapping and AIMS (Assessing the Impact of Micro-enterprise Services), to NGO/academic approaches, including participatory poverty reduction and gender empowerment, this course creates an opportunity to identify the challenges of micro-finance evaluation in the new millennium. It examines how the changing goals of development have created the need for shifting the traditional focus of assessment away from ‘outcomes assessment’ to the understanding of success/failure from women’s own vantage point.


Structure of the Course

This course will be organized around a 3-hour weekly seminar. Every Wednesday afternoon the class will meet to discuss the topic at hand introduced by both a class-member and the course director. The main purpose of these class meetings is to provide a context for developing a critical understanding of micro-finance in general, and its impact on women, in particular. The class meetings will offer a concise yet comprehensive and systematic analysis of the complex and often misunderstood relationship between micro-lending programs and the empowerment of women. The class discussions will also aim at offering a thorough assessment of the resulting mix of success and failures of highlighted/widely acclaimed micro-finance programs.

Course Requirements

Final evaluation will be based on the knowledge of materials covered in this course as well as the assignments listed below:

In-class seminar 25%
Each class-member will be required to make at least one oral presentation to the class based on the weekly topics. The presenter should lead the discussion by providing a thorough and cogent analysis of the topic that he/she is dealing. This presentation will serve as the basis for understanding the theoretical perspectives on gender, micro-finance, and human development. The presenter must avoid introducing the summary of the topic at hand. Instead, he/she is expected to raise critical questions and issues about the chosen topic. In other words, the presenter will make an effort to weave together empirical evidence drawn from specific cases and current theoretical debates/analyses simply to develop a deeper understanding of both mainstream and critical perspectives.

The presenter will be encouraged to use overheads, videos, and other audio-visual aids in order to make the presentation both stimulating and interesting. He/she will also be required to submit a 5-page written summary (double-spaced) of the presentation topic in advance.

Seminar topics will be finalized at the first class-meeting. Depending upon the size of the class, in-class seminars can be either a (small) group or an individual project.

Journal Entry 20%
Each class-member will write one critical review (5 to 6 pages, double-spaced, typed) of a book/book chapter/article listed in the course outline. The requirements are that, in addition to synthesizing the major points of the chosen piece, it should provide a critical assessment of the analysis presented in that book/article. This assignment will be due ob or before February 1, 2006.

Essay Proposal 15%
Everyone must submit a brief, no more than 3 pages, proposal which will contain -among other things - a statement of the problem, objectives of the essay, a clearly stated thesis, and an annotated bibliography. The proposal will be due on or before February 8, 2006.

Research essay 40%
Each class-member will write a research paper drawing upon both class readings and extensive research on a relevant topic. The paper is meant to be a critical analysis of a topic to be agreed with the course director. In order to provide a solid analytical understanding of the chosen topic, class-members are encouraged to write a case study, focusing on either a country or a micro-finance organization of their choice interest. Grades will be based on the quality of research, analysis, understanding of the dynamics of gender and development, and the organization of the research. This research paper should be no more than 20 pages in length, including the bibliography (double-spaced; the font size must be 12 points.). The deadline for the submission of the essay is March 8, 2006 . Late essays will be marked down 5% per day.

Please note that all of the assignments will be graded on the following criteria: quality of research, nature of scholarship, strength of written analysis, presentation/writing style.


Evaluation Weights

In-class seminar 25%
Journal entry 30%
Essay proposal 15%
Final Essay 40%

Please note that non-submission of work without an approved extension from the instructor will be accredited with the mark of "0". In order to receive a final grade, the class-member will have to receive a grade in each of the distributions noted above.

Required Texts

The class will use a course kit comprised of selected articles, book chapters, and written assessments published by established organizations.

In addition to the course kit, the class will also make substantial use of the following source materials which are alphabetically organized:

  • Bhavani, kum-Kum et. al, eds, (2003), Feminist Futures: Re-Imaging Women, Culture and Development, Lonbdon: Zed Books.
  • Cannon, Terry (2002), “Gender and Climate Hazards in Bangladesh”, Gender and Development 19(2), July: 45-50.
  • Datta, Rekha and Judith Kornberg (2001), Women in Developing Countries: assessing strategies for empowerment, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
  • Hsiung, P (1996), Living Rooms as Factories: class, gender and the factory satellite system in Taiwan, PA: Temple University Press.
  • Kabeer, Naila (1994), Reversed Realities: gender hierarchies in development thought, London: Routledge.
  • Lovibond, Sabrina (1990), “Feminism and Postmodernism”, in Boyne, Roy and Ali Rattansi, eds., Post-modernism and Society, New York: St. Martin’s Press: 154-86.
  • Mohanty, Chandra (1988), “Under Western Eyes: feminist scholarship and colonial discourses”, Feminist Review 30: 61-88.
  • Moser, Caroline (1989), “Gender Planning in the Third World: meeting practical and strategic gender needs”, World Development, 17(11): 1799-825.
  • Moser, Caroline (1993), Gender Planning and Development, London: Routledge.
  • Naples, N and M. Desai, eds., (2002), Women’s Activism and Globalization: linking local struggles and transnational Politics, NY & London: Routledge.
  • Nussabaum, Martha (2000), Women and Human Development: the capabilities approach,
    Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Parpart, Jane L., Shrin M. Rai, and Kathleen Staudt (2002), Rethinking Empowerment: gender and development in a global/local world, London, New York: Routledge.
  • Parrenas, R. S (2001), Servants of Globalization: women, migration, and domestic work,
    Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Pqrpart, Jane L. et. al., (2002), Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development, Ottawa: International Development Research Center.
  • Razavi, Shahra (2002), Shifting Burdens: gender and agrarian change under neo- liberalism, Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press.
  • Sassen, Saskia (2000), “Women’s Burden: counter-geographies of globalization and the
    feminization of survival”, Journal of International Affairs, 53(2): 503-524._____ (1998), Globalization and its Discontents: essays on the new mobility of people and money, NY: The New Press.
  • Scott, Catherine V. (1995), Gender and Development: rethinking modernization and
    dependency theory, Boulder, CO: L. Reinner.
  • Sen, Gita and C. Grown (1988), Development Crises and Alternative Visions: Third World women’s perspectives, London: Earthscan.
  • Sklair, L (1989), Assembling for Development: the maquila industry in Mexico and the United States, London: Routledge.
    United Nations (1999), 1999 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development: globalization, gender and work, NY: U.N. Publication.
  • Visvanathan, Nalini. ed., (1997), Gender and Development: a reader, London: Zed Books.
  • Wichterich, C (2000), The Globalized Woman: reports from a future of inequality, London, Zed Books.
  • World Bank (1989), The Role of Women in Economic Development, Washington, DC: World Bank.

Section One: Understanding Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development

Week 1: Women as a Constituency in Development

  • Kabeer, Naila (1994), Reversed Realities: gender hierarchies in development thought (chapter 4: Connecting, Extending, Reversing: development from a gender perspective), London: Verso: 69-94 (also see chapter 1).
  • Rathgeber, Eva (1990), “WID, WAD, GAD: trends in research and practice”, The Journal of Developing Areas 24(4): 489-502.
  • Chowdhry, Geeta (1995), “Engendering Development? Women in development (WID) in international development regimes”, in Marchand, Marianne & Jane L. Parpart, eds., Feminism/ Postmodernism/Development, London: Routledge: 26-41.


  • Agarwal, Bina (1997), “Bargaining and Gender Relations within and beyond the household”, Feminist Economics 3(1): 1-51.
  • Butler, Judith and Joan W. Scott, eds. (1992) Feminists Theorize the Political, London and New York: Routledge.
  • Harding, Sandra (1983), “Why Has the Sex/Gender System Become Visible Only Now?” in Harding, Sandra and Merrill B. Hintikka, eds., Discovering Reality: feminist perspectives on epistemology, metaphysics, methodology, and philosophy ofsScience, Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Publishing: 311-324.

Week 2: Conflicting Perspectives on Gender and Development:

  • Rathgeber, Eva (2005), “Gender and Development as a Fugitive Concept”, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 26 (Special issue): 579-92.
  • Baden, Sally & Anne Marie Goetz (1998), “Who Needs [sex] When You Have [Gender]? conflicting discourses on gender at Beijing”, in Jackson, Cecile & Ruth Pearson, eds. Feminist Visions of Development: gender analysis and policy, London: Routledge: 19-38,


  • Parpart, Jane L., M. Patricia Connelly and V. Eudine Barriteau (2000), Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development, eds. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.
  • Harcourt, Wendy, eds., (1994), Feminist Perspectives on Sustainable Development, London: Zed Books.
  • Sweetman, Caroline (2000), Gender in the 21st Century, Oxford, UK: Oxfam.

Week 3: Gender in the Era of Globalization

  • Standing, G (1989),“Global Feminization through Flexible Labor”, World
  • Development 17:1077-1095.
  • Sassen, S (2000), “Women’s Burden: Counter-geographies of Globalization and the
  • Feminization of Survival”, Journal of International Affairs, 53(2): 503-524.
  • Marchand, Marianne, “Reconceptualising ‘Gender and Development' in an Era of ‘Globalization'”, Millennium 25(3), 1996, pp. 577-603.


  • Bhavani, kum-Kum et. al, eds, (2003), Feminist Futures: re-imaging women, culture
    and development, Lonbdon: Zed.
  • Marchand, Marianne (1996), “Reconceptualising ‘Gender and Development’ in an Era of ‘Globalization’”, Millennium 25(3): 577-603.
  • Sassen, Saskia (1998), Globalization and its Discontents: essays on the new mobility of people and money, New York: The New Press: 81-109.
  • Thomas-Emeagwali, Gloria (1995), “Introductory Perspectives: Monetarists, Liberals and Radicals: contrasting perspectives on gender and structural adjustment”, in Thomas-Emeagwali (ed.), Women Pay the Price: structural adjustment in Africa and the Caribbean, Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press: 1-12.
  • Marchand, Mariane & Anne Sisson Runyan (2000), Gender and Global Restructuring: sightings, sites, and resistances, London : Routledge.

Week 4: Gender Mainstreaming

  • Moser, Caroline (1989), “Gender Planning in the Third World: meeting practical and strategic gender needs”, World Development 17(11): 1799-1825. http://scholarsportal.info/pdflinks/04111312563728402.pdf
  • Macdonald, Mandy, ed., (1994), Gender Planning in Development Agencies: meeting the challenge, London: Oxfam: 15-22.
  • Howard, Patricia (2003), “Beyond the ‘grim resisters’: towards more effective gender mainstreaming through stakeholder participation”, in Eade, Deborah, Development Methods and Approaches: critical reflections, London: Oxfam: 124-142.


  • Tiessen, Rebecca (2005), “What’s New about Gender Mainstreaming: three decades of policy creation and development strategies”, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 26 (Special issue): 705-720
  • Phillips, Lynne (2005), “Gender Mainstreaming: the global governance of women?” Canadian Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 26 (Special issue): 651-664.
  • Ashworth, Georgina (1994), “An ABC of Institutionalizing Gender", in Macdonald, Mandy (ed.), Gender Planning in Development Agencies: meeting the challenge, London: Oxfam: 65-79.
  • Kabeer, Naila (1994), “Gender-Aware Policy and Planning: a social relations perspective”, in Macdonald, Mandy (ed.), Gender Planning in Development Agencies: meeting the challenge, London: Oxfam: 80-97.
  • Commonwealth Secretariat (1999), Gender Management System Handbook, London: Commonwealth Secretariat: 11-15 and 30-43 http://www.unescobkk.org/gender/gender/documents/gender%20management%20system%20handbook.pdf
  •  Gwaba, Regis M. (2003), “Reflecting on PRA, Participation and Gender”, in Cornwall, Andrea and Garett Pratt, eds., Pathways to Participation: reflections on PRA, London: ITDG: 88-93.

Section Two: Micro-finance and the Empowerment of Women

Week 5: Gender and Micro-credit Operations


  • Molyneux, Maxine. (1985) “Mobilization Without Emancipation? women’s interests, state and revolution in Nicaragua”, Feminist Studies 11(2): 227-254.

Week 6: Micro-credit and Women’s Empowerment: lessons from South Asia

  • Mahmud, Simeen. (2004) Microcredit and Women’s Empowerment in Bangladesh. Attacking Poverty With Microcredit, eds. Salehuddin Ahmed and M.A. Hakim. Dhaka: University Press Limited and Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation: 153-188.
  • Hashemi, Syed et. al., (1996), “Rural Credit Programs and Women’s Empowerment in Bangladesh”, World Development 24(4): 635-653.
  • Goetz, Anne Marie and Rina Sen Gupta. (1996) Who Takes the Credit? Gender, Power, and Control Over Loan Use in Rural Credit Programs in Bangladesh, World Development 24(1): 45-63.
  • Rankin, Katharine (2001), “Governing Development: Neoliberalism, Microcredit, and Rational Economic Woman”, Economy and Society 30(1): 18-37.


  • Amin, Sajeda. (1997), The Poverty-Purdah Trap in Rural Bangladesh: Implications for Women’s Roles in the Family. Development and Change 28(2): 213-233.
  • Montogomery, Heather & John Weiss (2005), Great Expectations: micro-finance and poverty reduction in Asia and Latin America, Tokyo: The Asian Development Bank Institute.

Week 7: Reading Week – No Class Meeting

Week 8: Questioning Popular Assumptions: what empowerment means? Part I

  • Parpart, Jane L, Shirin M. Rai and Kathleen Staudt (2002), “Rethinking Em(power)ment, Gender and Development: an introduction”, in , in Parpart, Jane L, Shirin M. Rai and Kathleen Staudt, eds., Rethinking Empowerment: Gender and Development in a Global/Local World, London: Routledge: 3-21.
  • Lairap-Fonderson, Josephine (2002), The Disciplinary Power of Micro Credit: Examples from Kenya and Cameroo, in Parpart, Jane L, Shirin M. Rai and Kathleen Staudt, eds., Rethinking Empowerment: Gender and Development in a Global/Local World, London: Routledge, 182-198.


  • Ellis, Patricia (2003), Women, Gender and Development in the Caribbean: reflections and projections, London: Zed Books, Chapter 3: Mechanisms and Strategies for the Advancement and Empowerment of women: 92-116.
  • Datta, Rekha and Judith Kornberg (2001) Women in Developing Countries: Assessing Strategies for Empowerment, Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner.
  • Ronchi, Paola Emilia (2004) Micro-finance: a new way of development? Geneva, http://www.microfinancegateway.org/files/26525_file_MEMOIRE_english.doc

Week 9: Questioning Popular Assumptions: what empowerment means? Part II

  • Kabeer, Naila (1998), Money Can’t Buy Me Love? Re-evaluating Gender, Credit, and Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh. IDS Discussion Paper No.363. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies. Sections 1, 2, 3, 9, & 17.
  • Parpart, Jane L, Shirin M. Rai and Kathleen Staudt (2002), “Concluding Thoughts on Em(power)ment, Gender and Development”, in Parpart, Jane L, Shirin M. Rai and Kathleen Staudt, eds., Rethinking Empowerment: Gender and Development in a Global/Local World, London: Routledge: 239-44.


  • Karl, M (1995), Women, Empowerment: participation and decision-making, London, Zed Press.
  • Goetz, Anna Marie (2001), Women Development Workers: implementing rural credit programs in Bangladesh, Dhaka: University Press, Chapter 2: 58-102.

    Week 10: Assessing the Impact of Micro-finance Programs: methodological issues
  • Hulme, David (1997), Impact Assessment Methodologies for Micro-finance: A review, Occasional Paper, AIMS, Washington, D.C. Available online at http://www.ids.ac.uk/impact/resources/introduction/Hulme_IA_meth_review.pdf

  • The Microfinance Gateway (2005), Developing an Impact Assessment, available online at
  • Else, John. 2002. “Striving for Scale and Sustainability in Microenterprise Development Programs”, in The Journal of Microfinance (4) 1: 65-80.
  • Nelson, Candace ((2004), Learning from Clients: assessment tools for microfinance practitioners, Washington, D.C.: AIMS/USAID.

Week 11: Assessing the Impact of Micro-finance Programs: what to assess?



Week 12: Gender and Micro-finance in the 21st Century: commercialization or women’s empowerment?

  • Drake, Deborah & Elisabeth Rhyne, eds., (2002), The Commercialization of Micro-finance: balancing business and development, Blomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, Chapters 1, 2 & 6.


  • Poster, Winifred & Zakia Salime (2000), “The Limits of Microcredit: transnational feminism and USAID activities in the United States and Morocco”, in Naples, Nancy & Manisha Desai, eds., Women’s Activism and Globalization: linking strategies and transnational politics, London: Routledge.

Week 13: Overview of the course
No assigned Reading.