A gender analysis in access to and utilization of micro finance resources: a case of Kabarole Research Centre, Rwenzori, Uganda
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The aim of this study was to undertake a gender analysis of women’s access to and utilization of micro finance resources in Uganda and how different this could be for men. The study questioned the gender inequalities embedded in women’s and men’s accessibility to and utilization of a credit resource. There were earlier indications in PEAP, 2002 that indicated a possibility of accessibility to Micro finance as one of the strategies that could contribute to poverty reduction among both men and women. The study also questioned that and investigated the extent to which such a strategy could make a change in incomes at household level. The questions on access to and utilization of credit resource, were examined through the process of credit provision at client and Micro Finance Institution level in ways that examine the prospects and challenges which female and male clients go through in order to access financial resource. Further assessment was made through tracing the utilization of this credit resource at household level. In terms of methodology, main tools used were, questionnaires, Focus Group Discussion guide, interview schedule and non participant observation to collect data from 120 respondents; 30 questionnaires were administered to the Micro Finance Association (MFA) beneficiaries; an interview guide was administered on Kabarole Resource Center-MFA project staff and Micro Finance Officers; the study further employed Focus Group Discussions with MFA group members. The above total was arrived at by writing a list of names of people who attended and the researcher randomly chose names of the even numbers on the list. From Kisomoro and Kibito MFAs, the attendance lists were made of 50 Members from each MFA representatives; the first 15 names from even numbers were selected to attend to questionnaires for both MFAs and the first 40 members on the list without segregating attended to focus group discussions; for each MFA 2 staff members, 1 Micro Finance Officer and 2 group chairpersons were purposively selected and responded to the interview guide. The findings of the study indicate that microfinance products are available and accessible to both male and female MFA members (source: field data). It also illustrates that where as men and women equally utilize resources, they do not have equal control over resource and decision making is largely done by men, apart from women from female headed households. This is due to different factors like patterns in domestic roles, lack of collateral, long distances, male signatories, male domination, control of resources and decisions. In conclusion therefore, the programme has helped in transforming the lives of men and women. Men and women at community level have acquired, saved and managed funds. At the household level, men and women have been mobilized to help in starting and upholding income generating activities; the status of women has been enhanced and engagement in local community management structures and issues improved at household and community level. Both men and women have equal opportunities, despite the several setbacks in ensuring equal access to and utilization of micro credit. To make the MFA project realize benefits to the people at the grass-root, the study recommends intensive gender training for KRC staff and MFA members, so as to make a thorough integration of gender in Micro finance Resource (MFR) access to, utilization and control among clients; and since women lack self confidence and the power to make decisions that is why they comprise over 50% in group leadership, but the few men there in make decisions.