Financial Muscle | Equality Through Financial Literacy

In Africa, women still need to learn financial literacy skills related to savings, entrepreneurship, record-keeping, budgeting and investment. Financial literacy leadership training programs for rural women provide the skills required for a better standard of living – a life with financial muscle.

Through engagement in financial literacy training sessions and female financial associations, rural women have continuously sought financial knowledge to better themselves. There are many women in small and medium enterprises across Africa and Uganda. The good news is that an increasing number of women are implementing projects aimed at up-skilling women in income-generating activities.

One of these research programmes is spearheaded by FAR-LeaF research fellow Dr Hellen Namawejje. She uses her FAR-LeaF grant funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to create the Financial Awareness and Literacy Leadership project. During her research, Dr Namawejje conducted financial literacy training classes for rural women in the Luwero district of Uganda. A total of 155 women from three villages attended the training.

During the community engagement, women could voice their opinions on savings, business planning skills, budgeting, entrepreneurship, investment, customer care and business management. Women learned different forms of saving other than hiding money in a small box at home. For many options like joining Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), using assets, having long-term investments, and an own bank account was a new concept. It is perceived as opportunities exclusively accessible by their male counterparts.

In Uganda, for the last ten years, we have had the ministry of trade, industry and cooperatives led by female ministers – a symbol that women know the trade and financial investment. Women’s representation on the Uganda Investment Authority Board speaks volumes about women’s capacity regarding investment. This indicates that women can be entrusted with the country’s significant resources and manage them well.

Ugandan women have actively engaged in government projects to improve income and Ugandans’ livelihoods. These include the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NADS), Operation Wealth Creation, Emyooga, Parish Development Model (PDM) and projects from the Poverty Alleviation Department (PAD) in the State House.

In all these programs, women seek financial empowerment by enhancing their daily incomes. This signifies that women no longer want to be left behind in developmental issues. Rural women are willing to support training programmes. This must be leveraged into meaningful involvement by promoting financial leadership programmes. For example, the Luwero district women have formed a Village and Loan Association (VSLA) after their financial literacy skills training course. At the VSLA, each member saves a small amount of money for a certain period. Later, members can borrow this money at a lower interest rate than banks or money lending agencies.

This has helped many women start small businesses like making chapatis and opening salons and shops. These women can now afford to manage access to food in their homes and on the table from the generated income.



Rural women who attended financial literacy training in Kanyanda village, Uganda.

This has helped many women start small businesses like making chapatis and opening salons and shops. These women can now afford to manage access to food in their homes and on the table from the generated income.

After the training, rural women were heard saying they could now own land like men. Some women are subject to paying male landowners a percentage for selling their agricultural products produced by females on their land.

Preliminary results from the research show that financial literacy training for rural women is paramount to enable women to live in an equal society.

Article submitted by Hellen Namawejje

 

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.