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Theses Master's

Savings Groups: Integrative Services Spark Women’s Social Empowerment

Lawson, Kayla M.

Using the case studies of IRC’s EA$E program in Burundi, IRC’s adapted program in Côte d’Ivoire, Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement Program (WALA) in Malawi, and Intervention with Microfinance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) in South Africa, this thesis sought to answer the questions: what are some of the program features that influence the success of savings groups in socially empowering women? Might such social empowerment pave the way for shifting gender norms? This thesis argues that savings groups programs designed with integrative services, which include men, are context-specific, and need-tailored, have great potential to socially empower women and transform gender norms into those that promote equality. By analyzing each program design, this thesis shows that joined together, these specific program features can transcend country and program differences and impact the effectiveness and success of savings groups socially empowering women and shifting gender norms. Women reported increased empowerment, which included reductions in economic abuse and intimate partner violence, and an increase in household decision-making, and social capital. Adopting this set of program features in savings group program design may prove to be critical in effectively socially empowering women.

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More Information

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Petrova, Tsveta
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
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