HC Deb 06 March 2002 vol 381 c340W
Mrs. Spelman

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of the micro-credit agencies supported by her Department are allocated to empower women. [39470]

Clare Short

Most clients of micro-finance institutions are women, who use their community banks to make regular saving deposits or to take out loans to expand their manufacturing or trading micro-enterprises. Research shows that micro-finance services can have a hugely positive social and economic impact on poor and socially marginalised women.

DFID funds many such institutions worldwide. While we do not possess detailed, disaggregated data, we estimate that 70–80 per cent. of our funding for micro-finance directly support women. Many organisations that we support explicitly target women clients. For example, BRAC in Bangladesh serves 4.3 million members, over 98 per cent. of whom are female. We are also making progress in countries where women have limited rights. Over the last five years, we supported the rapid growth of Kashf Foundation in Pakistan, a micro-finance institution dedicated to empowering women. It is entirely female-owned and managed, and serves 10,000 women.

Likewise, in several African countries we support FINCA, which provides services almost exclusively to women. We also fund Opportunity International's network of micro-finance institutions in five African countries, serving almost 43,000 women or almost 70 per cent. of its total client base.

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