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Gender research and capacity building


MFC conducts gender research and capacity building projects throughout the Europe and Central Asia region

Our recent work includes:

Capacity building: Gender mainstreaming in the ECA region

The goal of this 18-month project (closed December 2011), conducted in Azerbaijan and Armenia, was to provide innovative solutions for gender mainstreaming in microfinance.It did so by equipping clients with gender-focused and life planning tools, and enabling MFIs to ensure gender equality and equity for clients through appropriate non-financial services. The project included two components:

1. Developing a self-help empowerment booklet: This project drew on field experience to develop a model for MFIs to facilitate the processes of women's empowerment. The Gender Action Learning System (GALS) - an innovative participatory methodology using simple mapping and diagram tools - was adapted to the local context and to a self-study booklet format. This booklet is a ready-to-use tool for clients, containing entertaining life planning exercises (situated in the in the context of business improvement) and examples of client success stories. It can also be used in facilitated client workshops.

2. Gender mainstreaming through social performance management (SPM): Gender awareness and policies are a key aspect of SPM. This project strengthened the gender perspective in SPM, through widening the gender components in the MFC Quality Audit Tool (QAT), a diagnostic tool designed to review and improve the effectiveness of management processes for achieving social goals.

Learn more about this project:

Gender research in Microfinance in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2008)

This project deepened our understanding of gender issues across the microfinance sector, both at the MFI level and among microfinance clients. The research were structured in three phases to analyze the situation from different angles, starting from the insight into the issues on the state level and the government agenda, down to the institutions and their clients:

The Bosnia study results revealed a poor understanding of the unique needs of women, a disproportionate outreach to male clients (both in terms of numbers of loans and loan sizes), and a lack of MFI gender policies. At the same time, clients provided an insight into the value of access to financial services for women, a preference for quality service over range of services. Read more about the project findings here