Uganda project receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The new project, Women's Leadership in Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) has received funding for three years.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently gave funding to the project which is aimed at investigating and reducing barriers to women's leadership in VSLAs in Uganda.
Village Savings and Loans Associations or VSLAs create self-managed and self-capitalized savings groups that use members' savings to lend to each other.
VSLAs are prominent for financial inclusions and economic empowerment of women in Uganda. However, there is a gap in women's representation in the leadership committees. This poses a challenge in achieving the full potential of women's empowerment, both social and economic, through VSLAs, as well as similar community groups.
"We are thrilled to be part of this project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which will allow us to continue our research on the important topics of female empowerment and microfinance," says Bjorvatn and Franco.
The project consists of two parts, one formative and one experimental. The formative phase aims at providing a better understanding of trust in women's leadership, the selection process into leadership positions in VSLA, and the influence of women on the decisions in these groups. For this purpose focus groups, discussions, and key informant interviews will be used.
The experimental part of the project is designed as a field experiment where gender quotas in VSLA leadership will be implemented in randomly assigned groups. Based on the findings from the formative phase, the researchers will design and implement an additional treatment, such as role models, that alone and together with the gender quota, can help women overcome the barriers preventing them from taking leadership roles and become effective leaders.
As mentioned the project is led by Munshi Suleiman, Brac Uganda, and includes our two researchers Catalina Franco and Kjetil Bjorvatn. Other members of the research group are Ben Cislaghi (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) Danila Serra (Texas A&M University), Shyamal Chowdhury (Sydney University) Tabitha Mulyampiti, (Makerere University) and Eve Namisango (African Centre for Systematic Reviews and Knowledge Translation).