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Dear Thies... Thank you very much for your great input, re-emphasizing the need (and the opportunity) in integrating gender transformative intervention like GALS with financial services. Perhaps we can hear more from you on GALS as you have also been highly involved in the programme for many years...
I like your ''good marriage'' phrase .... On the one hand ''saving services'' (appropriately managed) proved to be a key source of women's empowerment. In fact, one of the special characteristic of ''cash'' saving (now increasingly being ''digitized'') is the fact that it is ANONYMOUS (secret, whether the value is $10 or $1000, etc), unlike other forms of savings (e.g livestock, which are visible), which gives the opportunity to 'hide' resources from potential claims from neighbours, household members, etc. Valuable in some respect, this can also be a great source of suspicion, mis-trust among partners, unless there is an effective intervention to counter this. ... The GALS intervention (and also the ''Gender Dialogue'' by CARE at many USAID programmes, among others) aim to promote mutual trust and collaboration. Ruralfinance ''group meetings'' (including VSLAs and other Self Help Group meetings),often conducted monthly and weekly, provide COST EFFECTIVE platforms to facilitate dialogues and trainings at regular intervals for participating women and men. As you rightly highlighted Thies, there are many reports highlighting very encouraging positive outcomes on livelihoods in general, as well as gender equality at the very grass-root, starting from joint business plan highlighting fair division of labour, etc.... My observations in ruralfinance for the last many years, however, suggest that there has been little attention to such ''integrated'' intervention both by financial service providers, as well as other grass-root actors concerned with ''women's economic and social empowerment''. ... I look forward to hear more.
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