Case study

Poor Women and their Money: Between Daily Survival, Private Life, Family Obligations and Social Norms

Understanding the complexity and diversity of women's informal financial practices
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This article examines women's informal financial practices and circuits, using data from surveys conducted in Senegal and South India.The paper analyzes the complexity and diversity of intra-family financial practices, with a specific focus on poor women. It demonstrates that these practices incorporate security, emotional and social dimensions. The study indicates that:

  • Intra-household economic transactions cannot be confined to material and contested domains where the stakes are limited to questions of control;
  • Feelings, emotions and status are exchanged in addition to money, goods or services when the economic sphere meets the private one;
  • All household members are involved in a continuous and intensive process of negotiation of their respective relations and positions;
  • Any economic transaction is an opportunity to organize and reorganize the nature and significance of these relations;
  • Women in the case studies engaged in complex and diverse practices of saving, borrowing and exchange.

Finally, the monetary and financial practices of these women reveal the heterogeneity of woman as a category and of positions occupied within a household, which vary depending on age and on the nature of blood and marriage alliances.