Publication Date: 12/01/2021
Women’s meaningful participation and influence in public processes in fragile and (post) conflict-affected settings (FCAS) is not only necessary to achieve inclusive development but is a fundamental human right. Unfortunately, in most contexts, men are overrepresented in decision-making and women do not have equal voice in the decisions that affect their lives. Some evidence suggests that the economic empowerment of women opens up opportunities for them to participate in public decision-making processes. One such means for economic empowerment in FCAS is savings groups. Savings groups are small, community-based groups that can provide members a safe space to save money, take small loans, and make investment decisions. Globally, women have made advances in improving their income and access to savings, as well as increased their entrepreneurial endeavours as a result of their participation in savings groups. Research also shows that women’s participation in savings groups 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? In other words, does women’s participation in savings groups influence their public participation1 and decision-making? Through a mixed methods investigation across five countries (18 villages) in Africa and South Asia (Burundi, Mali, Niger, Pakistan, and Sudan), using CARE’s Gender Empowerment Framework, this research investigated the differences in outcomes between women who participate in savings groups under three CARE programmes: Every Voice Counts (EVC), Women on the Move (WoM), and Latter Day Saints Charities (LDS) Recovery Support for Vulnerable Households programmes [74 pages].