This measurement study is part of a larger randomized controlled trial (RCT) that aims to produce evidence on how goal-based digital savings accounts and services might improve the financial health and well-being of low-income people in Uganda. Preliminary data from the RCT revealed that women were more responsive to financial coaching than men. This discovery is in line with existing research that illustrates the potential for DFS to empower women. However, in order to advance this understanding, more work is needed to improve and expand the measurement of women’s economic empowerment (WEE) indicators with a focus on context-specific indicators.
Layering a measurement study onto the existing RCT will help uncover why women are more responsive than men to financial coaching and savings. Additionally, the study will identify how these interventions contribute to women’s agency, defined as setting goals, acting on them, and achieving them. The measurement study will be informed by qualitative research that is already underway. Utilizing input from two complementary investigative techniques, focus group discussions (FGD) and cognitive interviews (CI) iteratively, indicators are being developed and adapted to a Ugandan context (content validation). The measurement study involves increasing the female sample size in the RCT from 400 to 1,600 women (1,200 additional women will be recruited) to allow for more variables associated with WEE to be included in the analysis. The women will be evenly split between a treatment and a control group. In the treatment arm, the sample population will receive personalized financial coaching emphasizing the importance of savings. Finally, the third stage will consist of construct validation using machine learning algorithms that will identify which WEE indicators have the greatest classification power and the strongest ability to predict women’s agency demonstrated by the aptitude to devise concrete savings goals, achievement of goals and the ability to act upon these goals.