Financial inclusion programmes supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) demonstrate the positive impact that microfinance can have on women's empowerment. For example, DFID supports the Kashf Foundation in Pakistan, which provides financial services to women from low income communities. An assessment of the programme found that: 60% of clients took out loans to start new businesses; 34% of long-term clients experienced improvement in their economic situation; two-thirds increased their savings; and women's increased ability to contribute to the family income improved their status within the household.
We cannot assume, however, that women's empowerment is an automatic outcome of microfinance programmes. DFID is producing a toolkit to strengthen the design, implementation and measurement of programmes to empower women through improved financial inclusion. The toolkit will be launched in spring 2011.