Women, poverty, and the microenterprise: Context and discourse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article discusses the claims of success of microenterprise development programmes (MDPs) in poverty reduction and gender equality. It also deals with the broader theoretical and methodological issues related to the ways in which context and discourse interact in the assessment of anti-poverty and gender equity strategies. MDPs are considered among the most viable strategies for helping women overcome poverty and promoting gender equity. However, there has been significant debate over these claims. The relationship between business ownership, poverty reduction and gender empowerment is still to be proved. The article presents the voices of women engaged in a microenterprise (ME) from a context-informed and discourse analysis perspective, and considers the women's insights about ME as an anti-poverty and gender empowerment strategy. The findings show a complex picture. On one hand, the new occupational status promises a tangible alternative to multiple personal, social and gender constraints. Additionally, women in the study perceived the ME as a space for self-definition and as an outlet for expressing their oppressed identities. On the other hand, the findings seriously challenge the capacity of the MDP strategy to promote gender equity and combat poverty among low-income women. Implications for research and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-218
Number of pages24
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Anti-poverty strategies
  • Discourse analysis
  • Gender equality
  • Israel
  • Microenterprise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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