Beyond Economic Empowerment The Influence of Savings Groups on Women’s Public Participation in Fragile and (post) Conflict-Affected Settings
Publication Date: 01/01/2021
Promoting women’s meaningful participation and influence in governance processes in fragile and (post) conflict-affected settings (FCAS) is necessary to achieve inclusive development. Existing evidence suggests that by economically empowering women, they will be able to better participate in public decision-making processes. One such mechanism for women’s economic empowerment in Sudan is through Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), which are savings groups that offer women a space to come together to save money, take out small loans, and make investment decisions.
The mixed methods study conducted in seven villages across three states (East Darfur, South Darfur, and South Kordofan) sought to answer the research question “To what extent does women’s participation in savings groups affect their public participation in governance or decision-making processes?” Additionally, this study investigated the differences between women who participated in VSLAs under the Every Voice Counts (EVC) and Latter Day Saints Charities (LDS) Recovery Support for Vulnerable Households programmes as well as the differences from participation in different community groups (VSLAs, community advocacy groups, and other community-based organisations). These comparisons helped to offer an explanation of how different programmatic approaches from civil society and different community groups did or did not affect women members’ public participation.
Through the findings of this study, it can be concluded that indeed women’s participation in savings groups (VSLAs) affects their public participation in community governance structures and decision-making. The extent, though, is dependent on a variety of factors including the gender composition of the VSLA, the support of family and community members, the support and resources contributed by programmes and partners, social norms and exclusionary practices within the communities, and the will of the women members themselves.