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Ms. Bukirwa has trained 32 saving groups out of the 1,000 in the district with the aim of improving women's economic independence, confidence, and self-worth in making decisions with their saved funds.

By Our Reporter

MASINDI: Ms. Bukirwa Grace, a former senior banker at Post Bank Uganda, is currently volunteering to change women’s lives in Masindi district through saving skills taught in their savings groups in financial management.

According to Ms. Bukirwa, some married women and their husbands make joint decisions on the purpose of saving as a family, but men have the final say on the money. 

She adds that women’s saving empowerment initiatives would be combined with financial education and given as lessons to saving group members.

“There is a need for the government to highlight good practices in the design and monitoring of savings group programs for women’s empowerment outcomes through the development of a monitoring tool for the measurement of the various dimensions of women’s empowerment within savings groups,” Ms. Bukirwa says.

Ms. Bukirwa has trained 32 saving groups out of the 1,000 in the district with the aim of improving women’s economic independence, confidence, and self-worth in making decisions with their saved funds.

Ms. Aliguma Sarah Gonzaga, the chairperson of Masindi Women’s Council, says women in rural areas in the district depend on volunteers for financial saving knowledge so they have the strength and confidence to control their finances.

“Poor saving skills are hindering the impact of saving as women spend their saved money on buying luxuries, but different volunteers in banking institutions are helping to empower women saving in groups on their own rights and how to utilize their saved funds for development,” she said.

“Women are in many savings, but the challenge is we don’t see the impact on why they save; for them, they spend on buying luxury things; they don’t save for clear purposes to enhance their personal and family development,” Ms. Gonzaga added.

According to Mrs. Gonzaga, women in village savings groups do not save for a clear purpose, and increasing women’s access to financial services allows them to have better control over financial resources and improves financial independence, fostering greater investments for the family.

“Those who have acquired some knowledge of savings have the ability to make decisions that serve the needs of women who save, as they have full control of the money saved,” Mrs. Gonzaga says. 

Ms. Mukuru Jane, a member of the Bujenje United Women Savings Group, says different financial training has increased her self-confidence and contributions to covering basic household expenses such as school fees, food, and clothing, and enhanced her respect for and cooperation with her husband.

Volunteers in Masindi have embarked on empowering Masindi women living in rural areas with financial saving skills to increase their access to financial services and allow them to have better control over their financial resources.

Ms. Mugasa Scovia, the chairperson of the God is Able Women Saving group, says she has managed to educate her two children up to degree levels using the money she saved and borrowed from the group.

“In saving, women just need to focus and be trusted while borrowing; this becomes easier when you have learned some saving skills, but unfortunately, we depend entirely on volunteers to give us those skills, who come from banks and retired bankers,” she said.

Ms. Muhingo Joan, of the Kisindi women’s saving group, says group members get together regularly to save money and borrow from the group savings, reminding themselves of the need to save.

Dr. Florence Asiimwe, the Masindi District Woman Member of Parliament, says saving groups in villages focus on women’s economic empowerment and measure change through quantitative indicators of economic well-being, and there is a need to empower them with skills in savings.

“The saving groups enable the accumulation of funds that can be used as capital for microenterprises for women; the quantification of results is easier; and the government will keep providing a limited understanding of the role of saving groups as affecting the financial dimensions of women’s empowerment,” Dr. Asiimwe said.

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