African women continue to be the backbone of our economies as farmers, traders, scientists, entrepreneurs, and leaders in many other sectors. It is the collective responsibility of Africans to hold themselves and their leaders accountable to deliver on gender equality and commitments to women’s empowerment. This is the message from Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The African Union (AU) commemorates Pan-African Women’s Day on the 31st of July. The commemoration is linked to the AU Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow campaign. This year the focus is on Innovative Solutions for Financial and Economic Inclusion for African Women.

Even though there are innumerable initiatives, policies and programs aimed at accelerating development and fighting poverty, many of them have failed, in Africa. Dr Hellen Namawejje is working in Uganda to address challenges related to financial illiteracy and a lack of financial awareness in women, as part of an early career research fellowship program at Future Africa (FAR-LeaF), focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills.

“One of the reasons for this is that Africans are not introduced to the essential principles of smart money management or given personal money knowledge at home or school. This leaves them susceptible to become victims of everyday money decisions, jeopardising most aspects of their lives – including health, education, agriculture, food supply, peace and reduced violence, financial security and hopes of financial independence now and in old age. These issues impact both genders, but females are most affected.”

Dr Namawejje is a lecturer at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and uses mathematical applications to translate research evidence into policy. Her research speaks to Innovative Solutions for Financial and Economic Inclusion for African Women, that is intended to improve financial awareness and financial literacy. Her target audience will be exposed to practical ways in which to become money leaders rather than money spenders.

She plans to achieve this by bringing different specialists on board to train rural women on different financial knowledge concepts and skills – for example, the relevance of budgeting and planning, interest rates, saving and investing accounts, risk diversification and insurance, time value of money, and how these concepts can be applied in their daily lives – such as the use of improved pocket-friendly methods of farming.

The aim of the research is to improve quality of life. Specific objectives would first be to perform a needs assessment, before developing training materials putting methods in place and then to link the newly financially aware women to different associations within their vicinity. These may impact them financially in areas of healthcare, insurance, agriculture, banking, and financial services, planning for retirement and women’s associations – to name but a few.

August is Women’s Month in South Africa – Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future.



Dr Hellen Namawejje

Department of Statistical Methods and Actuarial Science
College of Business and Management Science
Makerere University


Prof Stephanie Burton

Prof Stephanie Burton

Research and Postgraduate Education
FAR-LeaF Program Director
University of Pretoria
South Africa

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The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa