Beyond economic empowerment: The influence of savings groups on women's public participation in fragile and (post) conflict-affected settings

Research shows that in addition to improving income and access to savings, women’s participation in savings groups also improves their confidence, skills and ability to influence household decision-making. This prompts the question: do these benefits of women’s participation in savings groups extend into the public sphere? 

This research by CARE Nederland focused on savings groups members under three CARE programmes, analysing five country case studies. The study finds that indeed women’s participation in savings groups influences their public participation. It should be noted that because women are often members of both savings groups and other community-based organisations (CBOs), it is hard to determine the impact of a single group. However, savings groups do have unique characteristics that enable women’s public participation. Some of the findings include:

  • Savings group membership (and other CBOs) improve women’s agency, including their confidence, public speaking and capacities on important topics (finance, savings, governance, women’s rights and more).
  • Membership in a community group, such as a savings group, provides women with a social network that builds connections into other groups.
  • 82% of women across all groups changed their beliefs on women’s participation, thinking women should play a bigger role in public decision-making. Typically, women must be part of their group for two years or more to realise this change.
  • Support from and partnership with broader civil society is important to enable women to increase their public participation.

Individual country case study reports are available for Burundi, Pakistan and Sudan. Please contact Katie Whipkey (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more information. 

  • Countries: Burundi, Mali, Niger, Pakistan, Sudan
  • Published: January 2021

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