In 2007 the IRC invested in developing, piloting and testing an economic and social empowerment program model that aims to increase women’s access to and control over economic resources and social networks, and ultimately increase women’s decision-making power and reduce their vulnerability to violence in the home. To mitigate the potential risk of increased violence as a result of participating in economic empowerment programs, the IRC has added a Discussion Group Series to the VSLAs, calling the intervention package EA$E (Economic and Social Empowerment).
The program was developed in response to women’s disclosures that while they could earn and save money, they often did not have the autonomy to decide how to use it. This manual draws on the IRC’s four years of EA$E programming experience in eight countries in Africa.
The EA$E model consists of a three-pronged intervention:
1. Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) for adult women
2. Discussion Group Series for EA$E members (women) and their spouses
3. Business Skills Training for EA$E members