barriers for the poorest.
The second constraint is that the system of group
responsibility, although effective in many ways to overcome transaction costs that arise when dealing with large numbers works against the inclusion of the poorest. The group screens out
the of the
problems of poor clients, poorest from
the time of group formation constraint is concerned with
because of their high financial the personnel management of
institutions. Instead of emphasis on members, quantitative results such
conscientisation or social awareness of the as loan recovery rates have increasingly
become the central concern, especially in the micro credit programmes tend members instead.
at the field level. As a result, field workers to shun the poorest and admit non-poor
The tendency of exclusion of the poorest has an important bearing on women, for a woman without male family members of active working age is likely to be left out of these programmes. The proportion of female-headed households varies in the different population studies. An official estimate suggests that around a tenth of households are headed by women (BBS 1999). The extensive poverty survey conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies in 1990/91 estimated that 9 percent of rural households were managed or headed by women (Hamid 1995) 13. Others take the view that the actual proportion could be around
20 to 30 corroborate households
percent (Asian Development Bank 2001: 19).
view that poverty is more severe among female-headed male-headed households. Female-headed households have a
13 Hamid’s definition of female headed households includes both de jure and de facto female-head households. De jure households are those with no males over 18 years of age present in the home. The women household heads include widowed, divorced and abandoned women. De fact households are those where the male head of household normally works and lives outside the village and there are no close male relatives between the ages of 18 and 70 living as permanent members of the household (pp. 178-179).