Women and Credit: Researching the Past, Refiguring the Future

Women and Credit: Researching the Past, Refiguring the Future

Women and Credit: Researching the Past, Refiguring the Future

Women and Credit: Researching the Past, Refiguring the Future

Synopsis

Credit can be instrumental in equalizing opportunity and alleviating poverty, yet historically men and women have not had the same access. Partly because of this, women have been excluded from many previous economic histories. This book fills a significant gap in exploring the vexed relationship between the women and credit across time and space.Providing examples of credit agencies and initiatives in both the developing and developed world, Women and Credit raises important policy issues and makes valuable suggestions for reconfiguring the relationship between women and credit. It also answers questions previously ignored by scholars, yet of vital significance to women's studies and economic history. What contribution did women make to the development of industrial capitalism? How does women's access to credit vary across time and cultures? How has the development of mico-credit initiatives affected women's economic position and what role will such initiatives play in the future?This book is an invaluable resource for anyone in the fields of Women's studies, economic history, anthropology or development.

Excerpt

This collection of essays began from the premiss that a clear knowledge of past practice strengthens future initiatives. Thus, social policy initiatives affecting women can best be pursued with a clear understanding of women's historic experiences. in this context, the relevant history affecting women encompasses more than just the last dozen years. At the centre of this reassessment is the long history of the rise of industrial capitalism and the roles of women as both informal and formal economic agents. Although the geographic focus of my research is Britain, the site of the first industrial revolution, there are numerous comparative elements that find resonance in other societies and other times. the overview provided here has a Western focus; however, there is much to discover and more work to be done in comparative reassessments of women's practices.

The history of women's roles in past societies is more than a matter of passing curiosity. Their experiences, and the social and economic patterns revealed, speak to the evolving structures in a modernizing world. Recent research has also uncovered the persistent initiatives of generations of women, information that has been absent for too long in standard analyses. This oversight is now being remedied. At the same time, our understanding of industrial capitalism is being reformulated to include the full contributions of half the population.

Discovering the history of women's economic endeavours is not without challenges (Alexander et al. 1979; Hall 1992). Gender inequities ensured that many elements of women's work went unrecorded. At the same time, as the tenets of liberal economics were set in place, the creators of these theories systematically excluded women's activities from consideration. in theoretical discourses and in practical policies, ubiquitous female endeavours fell more and more into the shadows. Mainstream liberal and Marxist economic thought illuminated and defined the practice . . .

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