Solidarity in Saving: Women Respond Quarter II Briefing
01 Nov 2021
CARE Women Respond
Women and girls, particularly those in VSLAs, are showing remarkable leadership and innovation in coping with the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 is having a catastrophic and disproportionate impact on women’s and girls’ lives. Women are more likely to lose their incomes because of COVID-19, face higher rates of violence and are more likely to go without food than men. Women also have limited access to formal and informal COVID-19 response and recovery decision-making spaces. Adolescent girls are also particularly vulnerable during times of crisis, facing increased risk of gender-based violence and early and forced marriage. As a result of school closures, both women and girls have taken on additional care-giving burdens at home. The lasting impact of COVID-19 may be that women and girls are losing the rights that they have fought to gain in the last few decades.
Despite these challenges, women and girls, particularly those in Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs), are showing remarkable leadership and innovation in coping with the crisis. VSLA members are organizing information campaigns, using their business and community mobilization skills to produce and distribute thousands of masks and finding ways to support people in their communities. They are demonstrating that women in VSLAs are resilient and will charge forward together through the crisis.
CARE’s Women Respond initiative is an unprecedented listening exercise, learning from women to better understand the unique situation COVID-19 presents, refine programming and advocacy and elevate women’s voices and concerns to meet their challenges. Women Respond is listening to 12,959 people—8,252 of them women—to understand how they are leading during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Women (in VSLAs) Respond sub-initiative focuses on how women and girls in VSLAs in Burundi, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Uganda are responding, and is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Well before COVID-19 arrived, women in these six countries were already coping with political disruption, climate shocks, social unrest and challenges to their livelihoods. But women in VSLAs are demonstrating how savings and solidarity can be a positive force during any crisis. Savings group members have assumed leadership roles in their communities, taking it upon themselves to educate their neighbors about COVID-19, refocus finances to support vulnerable community members and continuing to save, as the importance of financial safety nets has never been more critical than during the pandemic.
This Quarter 2 briefing is the second of four global briefs and includes two rounds of quantitative data from Burundi, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger and Nigeria and one round of quantitative data from Uganda collected between December 2020 and July 2021. The brief also highlights key findings from the first-round qualitative interviews from Burundi, Mali and Ethiopia conducted between March – June 2021. CARE interviewed women in a combination of rural and urban settings and in the quantitative survey respondents were given single answer options to questions. To date, CARE has surveyed a total of 4,185 VSLA members in the six countries, of which 3,266 were women and girls.
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