Combining health calendars and cash: building formal financial and health numeracy among poor women in Northern Pakistan
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University of Adelaide, Australia
University of Alberta, Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1087
Pakistan is a country with 60% illiterate population where most of the women are living in abject household poverty, with lack of ability to afford healthcare leading to unsafe birth-practices and serious health implications.

The study implemented the “Calendars and Cash” (C&C) project to equip and empower illiterate, innumerate rural women and adolescent girls with formal numeracy and record-keeping skills to empower them to participate confidently in local economy and healthcare system.

A cross-sectional survey was conducted among a random sample of 162 community-based savings group (CBSG) women residing in Kharmang district of Gilgit Baltistan. The study used the financial numeracy survey tool to test participants’ financial and health numeracy skills. Descriptive analysis was conducted and reported in ranges and frequencies, as appropriate. Bivariate analysis, chi-square and Pearson test was conducted to determine the differences between the proportions.

The survey included CBSG women of 15-50 years of age. Majority of the women were married with very little/no experience in business. Numeracy and literacy capabilities broadly overlapped, revealing distinctly different profiles. Women who had spent years in school feared/avoided written calculation and acquired few numeracy skills, however women outside the school managed to run a business using mobile banking. Household financial decision-making power was observed greater among women of 25-36 years-old followed by 37-years and older women. Decisions related to child health were completely made by 9.9% of the women, while 49.4% had a major say in these decisions. The study showed no correlation between educational attainment and decision-making power among women.

Following the baseline survey, the authors took this project to another level where the authors trained women until they had the ability to confidently engage with formal financial and health systems. The findings of his before-after study will be made available early next year.

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