The Impact of Savings Groups on Female Agency: Insights from Village Savings and Loans Associations in Northern Ghana
In this paper we examined how participation in Savings Groups like the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) influence women’s agency in rural Ghana, i.e. their ability to freely participate in group activities and act on other issues and matters that affect them. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected from VSLA and nonVSLA members to compare the effect between participants and nonparticipants. We used three dimensions of agency adapted from the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) to assess female agency: women’s participation and decision making in groups; women’s comfort with public speaking; and women’s decision making in their households. A significant finding of this study is that VSLA membership has enhanced the agency of female participants as they are more economically and socially active and can act on their own compared to women who did not use the Savings Group.