Women, power and position within the household economy: an ethnography of microcredit in poor Cairo neighborhoods


Mamdouh Hakim


This thesis examines the development discourses of the household-economy and related issues of power relations, and women's position by focusing on microcredit projects implemented by NOOs targeting women in poor Cairo neighborhoods. In doing so, the researcher reviews microcredit roots and history within development discourses against situated knowledge and value systems about women in poor Cairo neighborhoods. The research's analytical approach of deconstructing development provides the basic framework for the analysis of the language of development; for challenging microcredit assumptions and hypotheses embodied in its discourses; and for considering situated knowledge and practices.The ethnographic work of this thesis examines two microcredit projects targeting women in poor Cairo neighborhoods. The first project is being implemented in Dar El-Salam neighborhood by Save the Children-USA (SC). The other project is being implemented by The Integrated Care Society (ICS) in Ain Helwan neighborhood. The major findings of this work conclude that the examined development interventions of microcredit projects are mostly based on econocentric assumptions and are formulated in a way that ignores the local knowledge, values and socioeconomic characteristics of its clients. Despite the microcredit promises of empowerment and improved living conditions, clients are found vulnerable due to their economic dependence on credit, the stress of the harsh credit repayment conditions, and the challenge made by credit policies and procedures to the locally established socio-cultural values.

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Date of Award


Online Submission Date

March 2013

First Advisor

Dwyer, Kevin

Committee Member 1

Dwyer, Kevin

Committee Member 2

Peterson, Mark

Document Type



125 p.


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