Discipline and empower? A Study of credit and debt among women of the Sagnarigu district of Northern Ghana
Access to formal credit has been celebrated as one of the major contributing factors for ending poverty among rural populations who are largely in the informal sector, especially farmers and women. This study takes the angle of looking at how this credit-debt nexus piles pressure on debtors, instils some sort of market discipline in them and thereby serves as fuel to capitalism in rural settings. I adopt the four (4) theses on the consequences of rural indebtedness developed by Gerber (2014) to analyse the extent to which indebtedness fosters capitalism among rural women. I also adopted the concepts of power and empowerment to study the role credit plays in (dis)empowering rural women. My findings indicate that even though the rate of default on loan repayment is almost absent, women microentrepreneurs in the Sagnarigu district intensify production and trade in diverse forms in order to secure timely repayment of interest-bearing and guarantee-based loans. Rural women have had to work and trade more in ventures that yield fast and short-term income to be able to meet their weekly instalment loan repayment obligations. Some women engage their children in labour by sending them out to do sales on the streets and in the markets in order to gather enough revenue to pay back loans. Some even borrow from colleagues and family members to pay these debts. These changes in debtors’ behaviours and economic lifestyle in response to timely loan repayment is what is referred to as debt discipline in this research. The pressure of indebtedness and the short-termism is a typical feature capitalism in the rural areas. However, the study also reveals that the extension of credit facilities of various forms to rural women in the district have had a positive impact on their empowerment despite the pressures of loan repayments. Women are better positioned to undertake productive venture which, according to the data collected, yields enormous benefits to them. The study shows that the economic conditions of rural women who access loans have been enhanced at the household level. They are able to make small purchases that crucially contribute to meet daily household expenses independently. This means that debt discipline serves as a positive mechanism towards economic empowerment. The above notwithstanding, the socio-cultural context within which credit schemes operate negatively affects full women empowerment. Inequalities regarding access to education and training, participation in decision making processes, property ownership among others derails efforts at attaining full women empowerment.
|Keywords||credit, debt, empowerment, pressure, women, discipline, interest, Sagnarigu district, Ghana|
|Thesis Advisor||Gerber, Julien-François|
|Series||Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies (AFES)|
Mohammed, Abdul-Latif. (2019, December 20). Discipline and empower? A Study of credit and debt among women of the Sagnarigu district of Northern Ghana. Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies (AFES). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/51327