Microfinance and Women's Empowerment in Bangladesh: A Study of Competing Logics and Their Implications for Accounting and Accountability Systems
This study explores the issues of microfinance and women’s empowerment in Bangladesh, and their implications for accounting and accountability systems. The topic is politically contentious. There are debates about what ‘women’s empowerment’ means, how it fits with the other stated objectives of microfinance, how the success of microfinance should be evaluated, whether women are actually being empowered through microfinance initiatives, and concerns about the accountability of microfinance institutions (Kilby, 2006; Rahman, 1999). My study examines these controversies, drawing and building on Mayoux (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002) and the work of others on ‘competing logics’ evident in microfinance theory and practice. In particular, it compares and contrasts ‘economic’ and ‘social’ logics and explores their implications for how accounting and accountability systems are conceptualised and operationalised. In recognition of the dominance of economic logics in traditional accounting, it also responds to calls to develop more multi-dimensional accountings and ways of operationalising proposals for greater social accountability (Bebbington et al., 2007; Brown, 2009; Dillard and Roslender, 2011; Kilby, 2006, 2011; Kindon et al., 2007; Molisa et al., 2012). Through a participatory action research case study, my study focuses on the potential of dialogic accounting and accountability systems to address some of the problems and challenges identified in both gender and development studies and accounting literatures.