Economic and Social Empowerment (EA$E) Framework
The EA$E framework addresses women’s economic empowerment through a group process that combines three successive components. In the first stage, women-only Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) are formed and participants can begin to save small amounts of money as they work to a build a collective social support network. These VSLAs are economically self-sustaining and are a proven method for enhancing women’s access to financial services and resources.
Once the VSLA component is under way and trust has been established with the supporting agency and among participants Gender Discussion Groups are introduced. In this second stage, VSLA members invite their spouses or partners to join a structured discussion series on gender norms and how they function at the household level to undermine women’s economic participation both in the home and in society at large. Through a series of activities, groups identify and explore manifestations of male privilege and women’s oppression, learn and practice non-violent conflict resolution strategies, and brainstorm ways to work toward gender equality in their families and communities.
Because research indicates a correlation between women’s initial gains of economic empowerment and the potential for domestic violence, starting these Gender Discussion Groups prior to the pay-out of the first cycle of savings & profits from the VSLAs is essential.
In the last step, participants engage in the business skills training component prior to conducting a VSLA’s share-outs at the end of a cycle. This third stage of EA$E provides participants with basic business skills and supports them to develop basic business plans. These skills allow the participants to explore business investment options for their share out money with the intent of growing and sustaining their incomes.