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Small loans for women, often organised in groups, to build their own businesses – that’s a standard model of microfinance, and many microfinance organisations are focused on women. In fact, it used to be the case that 95 percent of Grameen Bank’s borrowers were female.

Through the establishment of self-owned businesses which provide an independent income stream, it is theorised (or often simply claimed) that women will be empowered thanks to microcredit. A compelling argument it is, but the evidence, sadly, is thin.

Many men send their women to obtain loans which they themselves would not be eligible for, as Weber (2002) found. Thereupon they allocate the loan within the family as they see fit, possibly buying a rickshaw which they themselves pull, or on-lend to a relative with an existing business. However, if repayment becomes a problem, it is the woman who is held responsible by the microfinace organisation, and is then subject to legal and social sanctions. Read the rest of this entry »

German daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported last week (Frauen sollen Krise lösen by Beate Willms, April 2 2009) the results of the seven-year study of the effects of the voluntary agreement of German companies to support employed women. Seeking to avoid governmental regulation, companies concluded the agreement in 2001. On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Family, Seniors, Women and Youth Affairs (das Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend), the researchers of the German Institute for Economic Research (Deutsches Institut für Wirtscharsforschung, DIW) monitored the share of women in leading positions in the private sector between 2001 and 2007. The results are not particularly surprising. The share of women in leading positions did not change significantly: It increased from 26 to 31% between 2001 and 2006 but went down to 27% in 2007. 98% of positions in management board of 200 largest companies were still occupied by men in 2007. The share of women occupying positions in supervisory boards equaled 10% but the researchers explain it by the pressure form work councils and trade unions.

Although these findings are not directly relevant to the questions of cross-border governance, they made me think about several parallels to transnational private regulation. The findings raise the question of the effectiveness of business self-regulation, which has been one of the core issues in scholarly and policy debates on transnational private regulation. How effective are voluntary agreements and programs and how to improve their effectiveness? These are essentially empirical questions and there are no straight-forward answers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
November 2017
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