Economic development in the poorest countries often makes better progress when women become involved in, and take a lead in, development projects. Encouraging women's involvement, however, is often a major difficulty in societies where traditionally women's status has been inferior and where women are expected to be domestic and passive. This book, based on extensive original research, considers major projects undertaken by non-governmental organisations in Bangladesh to encourage women's participation. The book identifies the factors which motivated women to be active, discusses how women achieved the level of capacity and knowledge to enable them to serve their communities appropriately, assesses the major difficulties and recommends how empowerment projects can be improved in future. The book concludes that established institutions and traditional customs are often the greatest barrier to women's participation.