Meeting Needs and Seeking Peace: Experiences of Micro-Finance Loan Recipient Women of Karachi, Pakistan

Farhana Madhani 1 * , Catherine Tompkins 2, Susan Jack 2, Carolyn Byrne 2

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp. 220-241

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The association between socio-economic status and health is well established. While involvement in a micro-finance program has been shown to reduce poverty among women, little is known about how this involvement impacts their mental health. Using interpretive descriptive methodology, this qualitative study explored women’s perceptions of how their participation in micro-finance programs influenced their mental health. Data were collected and analyzed through interviews with 32 urban-dwelling women from Karachi, Pakistan who have been micro-finance loan recipients for a period of 1 to 5 years. Women recognized micro-finance programs as being a major inspiration towards enhancing their mental health. The majority of participants, regardless of the number of years they held a micro-finance loan, revealed that seeking micro-loans and establishing income-generation activities assisted them to reduce tensions related to meeting their fundamental needs. Among the few participants who were not experiencing positive mental health at the time of the interview, they could foresee hope towards a better and an improved state of mental health. The need for and the importance of vocational skills training, economic stability, opportunity for education and environmental safety were echoed by these “everyday women” of Pakistan. Multiple stakeholders and micro-finance program should work collaboratively for the promotion of mental health determinants.

Keywords: Women, mental health, micro-finance, Pakistan, Qualitative Research.