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the number of beneficiaries could never reach the actual number of needy women because this type of programme requires close monitoring at each stage of production up to marketing, necessitating large operational costs. The first type of scheme is less costly because it utilises the existing skills and markets in and around the potential beneficiaries. It is this type of self-employment work that has been promoted by Grameen Bank and other micro-credit providers that followed, and this has become the major approach to addressing the issues of poverty and empowerment of women.

100.0

Total male

26.2

Urban male

73.8

Rural male

Total female

10.3

Urban female

2.7

Rural female

7.6

Table 3. Distribution of labour force by residence

Million persons

Share (%)

Million persons

36.0 8.6 27.4

Share (%)

100.0 23.9 76.1

Note: Labour force 15 years and above based on usual definition Source: LFS 2002/03

The positive impacts on women of micro-credit have been extensively researched. Here let us investigate the implications for ‘women’s work’ and the rural labour market. The implied mechanism of micro credit as a tool for reducing poverty is the generating of self-employment among the poor. Most studies emphasize a positive impact of micro credit programmes on women’s self-employment and labour participation. There are numerous anecdotes describing how the programmes have enabled women to take up various income-generating works (Yunus ed. 1982, Counts 1987, Bornstein 1997, to mention a few).

Rahman and Khandker (1994) have examined the impact of micro credit programme placement on the employment situation of the poor. Studying three such programmes by Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB, a semiautonomous government agency), BRAC (the largest NGO in Bangladesh) and Grameen Bank, the paper states that micro credit programmes have increased

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