“Women and money: lessons from Senegal”

This paper mentions women’s ownership of, access to and control over land in the context of the complexity and diversity of women's informal financial practices in Senegal. It suggests that these practices are at the centre of a constant dialectic between short-term and long-term horizons, between the requirements of daily survival and the demands of community solidarity, and between personal aspirations and collective constraints. These practices also clearly illustrate a desire among the women in Senegal to impose a form of financial self-discipline, and to create situations that will oblige them to earn income. The socio-economic diversity among these entrepreneurs is also underscored. Informal financial arrangements are both a product and producer of gender inequalities and inequalities among women, as reflected in the research. This has direct policy implications, especially for microfinance products. If they are to be effective, microfinance services must develop beyond a standard, one-size fits all model and become more innovative and adaptable to the diverse demands of women. They must be combined with complementary measures that challenge the systemic causes of inequality. Microfinance programmes should draw on informal financial arrangements while challenging their tendency to perpetuate inequality.
Guérin, I.
Source publication: 
Development and Change, 37: 549–570