Qualitative research conducted in August 2017, by South Florida University, examined the relationship between economic growth and forms of political accountability in four locations in Mali that have had exceptionally positive experiences in providing economic opportunities for women or in developing political consciousness. This research reviews the perceived impacts of Oxfam’s Saving for Change (SfC) program in these communities, and the strengths and challenges the program faces with regard to empowerment and accountability.
Women participants saw the creation and reinforcement of bonds of solidarity and social support as SfC’s most significant contribution. The program allowed them to collectively achieve what would not be economically or socially feasible as individuals. Households identified SfC’s economic value primarily in terms of savings and protection rather than income generation, and appreciated SfC’s contributions to food security through consumption smoothing loans and emergency assistance. Women’s empowerment was also highly constrained within the bounds of rural Malian society and by the instability of SfC associations and intrinsic limitations to entrepreneurial expansion.
For further information, please see related blog: “'Now I can’t be quiet' – When and why women speak out"