Reducing the Gender Dimensions of Poverty:
Microfinance policies, processes and practices

In the years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action by Member States in 1995, the gender dimensions of poverty have become increasingly recognised and available data indicate that women constitute an overwhelming portion of the poorest globally. The growing consensus that specific programmes and policies are needed to address this feminisation of poverty" has resulted in renewed focus on microcredit and microenterprise as the means to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable livelihoods among women. However, because much of this microcredit and microenterprise activity takes place outside of the formal financial sector, it has been difficult to accurately assess its effectiveness as a tool for economic empowerment of women.

DAW has initiated a project entitled "Reducing the Gender Dimensions of Poverty: Microfinance Policies, Processes and Practices". One important component of this project is a moderated on-line discussion forum focusing on microfinance as a means for achieving sustainable livelihoods for women in Africa. The discussion is expected to facilitate an interactive exchange of practical experiences and lessons learned from key players on reducing poverty among women; engage new actors (e.g. banks and policy makers) in the dialogue as a means of building consensus on effective capacity-building strategies to address gender dimensions of poverty; and profile good practices. The on-line discussion will help determine capacity-building needs that will be addressed in the project's subsequent phases.

The discussion forum will run for six weeks starting 11 June 2001 and a new topic will be addressed each week. The discussion topics are:

Week One: How effective is microfinance in alleviating poverty among women?
Week Two: The policy implications of microfinance
Week Three: Can successful micro-finance schemes be modeled?
Week Four: Operational concerns for the Microfinance service provider
Week Five: The end user/client
Week Six: Capacity building

While it is not possible to provide translation services for the entire discussion, participants should
feel free to give comments and make inputs in French and English. The weekly and final summaries
will be provided in both languages.

For details please contact Jette Jensen ( or Juliet Solomon (