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Toward Financial Inclusion and Female Empowerment through Microfinance Development Initiatives in Manila and Central Luzon, Philippines
AdvisorStarrs, Paul F.
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This qualitative study examines the impact of microfinance on the empowerment of Filipino women in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Luzon (Region II) regions of the Philippines. Microfinance in the Philippines is a tool of varied uses, implementations, and results. Those include four, in the main: pursuit of financial inclusion and empowerment, boosting women’s confidence, adding sense of purpose, and augmenting the ability of women to make independent decisions and undertake economic endeavors — each of which, ultimately, is a contributor to household improvement. These are influenced by the Christian religion, which stems from religious teachings and devotions, often offered through the microfinance institutions. This research contributes new data on the influence of religion and religious capital through microfinancing on the empowerment of Filipino women, too long overlooked in the literature. With a special focus on microfinance-plus — an expanded and integrated microfinance — it is reported that capacity-building programs of microfinancing serve to increase women’s economic capacities on a path to overcoming poverty and improving their socio-economic status. The findings from 54 interviews with both clients and program administrators reveal the importance of religion on female empowerment and development efforts to creating financially inclusive societies. The results of the interviews show that religion contributes to resolving financial information asymmetry and making the financial and non-financial resources available to the otherwise financially excluded members of Filipino society. By gaining an in-depth understanding of the microfinance landscape in the Philippines and the level of empowerment of the impoverished female clients, the data contributed to the spatial and social relations of women in relation to microfinance within the feminist and development geographical studies.