Letter: No simple way out of poverty for Bangladeshi women

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The Independent Online
Muhammad Yunus's vision of the "total eradication of poverty", especially for poor women in Bangladesh, is to be applauded ("The good banker", Review, 5 May). Unfortunately we fail to see how his "survival strategy" of giving credit to poor women helps to enhance their position in our society.

He argues that giving women credit helps them to be self-employed at home, keeping them in villages rather than looking for work in factories. How can this help them participate in wider social and political spheres? The Grameen Bank perpetuates rather than challenges the traditional position of women in Bangladesh.

The women in question have sold their souls. Leaving aside that credit ties them into a life-long dependent relationship to the bank, we do not know of any other bank which places conditions on women's lives by dictating what they can and cannot do, for instance insisting that they agree to have small families. This amounts to interfering with a fundamental right that women all over the world should have - the right to control our bodies.

Fatimah Shah, Maher Anjum, Parasathi Teare, Yasmin Kabir

GenderWatch, London E17