Digital Subwallets and Household Dialogues

Publication Date: 01/07/2020

This document reports the results of a women's financial inclusion intervention in rural Uganda from 2017 to 2019. Two innovations were tested among adult females: (1) a mobile banking service with digital subwallet folders labelled for women and (2) the same service coupled with a course of seven household counselling sessions aimed at equalizing the influence of women and men in the context of family money management.

The theory of change underpinning the project recognized that women's power over their own money, as well as their participation in household decision-making were very limited. Providing married women with greater autonomy and voice in household decision-making, it was proposed, would facilitate achievement of their own financial goals especially those believed to alleviate poverty, such as keeping children in school. The mobile banking service was meant to provide privacy and autonomy, while achieving voice was expected to occur as the result of the couples counselling sessions, which emphasized transparency, sharing, and collaboration. Importantly, the theory of change recognized that women's experience of empowerment takes place in the context of a struggle against disempowerment and often entails group solidarity.

The research was multimethod: a randomized controlled trial (RCT), administration of two scientifically validated psychological scales, bank data on the accounts, two exhaustive surveys, and 100 semi-structured interviews. The sample size was 1,423. The research design had two treatment groups and a control.

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