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Der Open-Access-Publikationsserver der ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

The Open Access Publication Server of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics

Schultz, Ulrike; Makkawi, Asia; El Fatih, Tayseer

Working Paper

Women and finance in rural and urban Sudan: A

case study in Greater Omdurman and Khartoum

Working Paper, Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften an der LandwirtschaftlichGärtnerischen Fakultät, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, No. 87/2008

Provided in Cooperation with:

Department of Agricultural Economics, Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture, Humboldt University Berlin Suggested Citation: Schultz, Ulrike; Makkawi, Asia; El Fatih, Tayseer (2008) : Women and finance in rural and urban Sudan: A case study in Greater Omdurman and Khartoum, Working Paper, Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften an der Landwirtschaftlich-Gärtnerischen Fakultät, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, No. 87/2008

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zbw Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft Leibniz Information Centre for Economics


Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften an der Landwirtschaftlich - Gärtnerischen Fakultät Nr. 87/2008 Ulrike Schult

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Philippstr. 13, D - 10099 Berlin (Mitte), Germany Tel.: +(49)- 30 - 2093 6340 ; Fax:+(49)- 30- 2093 6301 Impressum Prof. Dr. Martin Odening Geschäftsführender Direktor des Instituts für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaus c/o Kerstin Oertel Fachgebiet Agrarpolitik Philippstr. 13, Haus 12A 10099 Berlin Tel.: +(49)-30- 2093 6340 E-Mail: k.oertel@agrar.hu-berlin.de http://www.agrar.hu-berlin.de/struktur/institute/wisola/publ/wp/



Women and Finance in Rural

and Urban Sudan:

A Case Study in Greater Omdurman and Khartoum

–  –  –

Preface This research is the result of fieldwork undertaken in 2002 and 2003 by a team of Sudanese and German academicians from Ahfad University for Women (AUW) and Free University of Berlin (FU): This study on women and finance is part of an interdisciplinary research project on Sudanese women’s survival strategies. The research team was made up of Dr. Asia Maccawi (AUW) and Dr. Ulrike Schultz (FU) Berlin as research leaders and Ms. Tayseer El Fatih as assistant researcher.

We are thankful to all the women from Al Gharaza, Sanahir, Umbedda and Shigla who assisted us in our study by giving us some of their valuable time and shared their experience with us, to the DAAD which funded the trips to and from Berlin to Khartoum, to Ahfad university who supported the fieldwork trips, and Humboldt University of Berlin for facilitating the production of the study.

Abstract In the paper it is inquired how Sudanese women use the financial institutions in order to organise their lives between market, household, and the community. The results are based on interviews and observations done in two villages in the surroundings of Omdurman (Al Gharaza and Sanahir), displaced areas in Greater Khartoum (Ha Yusif and Umbedda) and in a lower middle-class area in Omdurman (Thawra).

Within a gender ideology that enforces the role of the male provider and the female housekeeper, women seem to have some room of manoeuvre. Most of the interviewed women had access to money, could in some cases dispose of substantial savings and had quite a considerable influence within the household financial decision making. Income earning can widen up the financial repertoire of female behaviour, which, in turn, has led to a challenging of the prevailing conceptualisation of the gendering roles but at the same time questions the male obligation to provide for his family. Within an ongoing process of changing gender roles and expansion of the market economy, women use financial institutions to defend their access to resources and gain new economic power.

In this context, women are open-minded about using formal institution such as banks, however, because of high transaction costs and limited trust in the efficiency of these institutions women prefer financial institutions that are embedded in their social networks and daily practices. Microcredit can be a means to enhance women’s financial room of manoeuvre.

Keywords: Sudan, Rural Finance, Microfinance, Women in the Informal Sector, Moral Economy, Female Economy, Poverty Alleviation

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Zusammenfassung In dem vorliegenden Forschungsbericht wird untersucht, wie sudanesische Frauen Finanzinstitutionen nutzen, um ihr Leben zwischen Markt, Haushalt und der Community zu organisieren. Die Ergebnisse basieren auf Interviews und Beobachtungen in zwei Dörfern in der Nähe Khartums, in Migrantenvierteln in Khartum und Omdurman und einem Mittelschichtsviertel in Omdurman (Tharwa).

Im Rahmen einer Ideologie, die den Mann als Versorger der Familie und die Frau als Hausfrau definiert, haben Frauen gewisse Handlungsspielräume. Die meisten Frauen haben Zugang zu Geld, verfügen in einigen Fällen über beträchtliche Ersparnisse und beeinflussen die finanziellen Entscheidungen innerhalb des Haushaltes. Eigenes Einkommen kann diese Handlungsspielräume erweitern und die vorgegebenen Geschlechterrollen, damit aber auch die männliche Versorgerrolle in Frage stellen. Innerhalb dieses Prozesses der Veränderung von Geschlechternormen versuchen Frauen, sich neue Räume anzueignen, gleichzeitig traditionelle Rechte und den Zugang zu Ressourcen zu verteidigen und die Männer auf ihre (traditionelle) Versorgerrolle zu verpflichten. Dazu nutzen sie die ihnen zur Verfügung stehenden Finanzinstitutionen und sind auch formellen Institutionen wie Banken gegenüber aufgeschlossen; allerdings wird ihnen der Zugang zu diesen durch hohe Transaktionskosten erschwert. Auch Mikrokreditprogramme werden von den Frauen genutzt und ihren Bedürfnissen entsprechend angeeignet.

Schlüsselwörter: Sudan, Ländliche Finanzsysteme, Mikrofinanz, Frauen im informellen Sektor, Moralökonomie, Frauenökonomie, Armutsbekämpfung

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Content Preface



1 Introduction

2 Gender and Finance: an Overview of Concepts and Discourse

2.1 Finance and Economic Embeddedness

2.2 Gender and Finance

2.3 Family, Household and Household Analysis

3 Gender and Finance in Household and Family and the Community................ 6

3.1 Resources Allocation and Income Distribution in Household and Family............. 6

3.2 Saving, Credit and Financial Institutions: the Female Perspective

3.3 Reciprocity and Traditional Credit Relations: Moral Economy and Mutual Aid.... 10 4 Gender and Finance in Small Scale and Informal Business

5 Microfinance, Development and Gender

5.1 Introductory Remarks

5.2 Concepts and Objectives: Empowerment, Sustainability and Poverty Reduction

5.2.1 Sustainability

5.2.2 Poverty Alleviation

5.2.3 Empowerment

6 Research Methods and Research Sites

7 Income Allocation, Saving Habits and Credit Relations

7.1 Income Allocation

7.1.1 “Men get the big shopping, women the small”:

The Man as the Provider of the Family

7.1.2 Budgeting and Income Distribution

7.2 Saving Habits and Institutions

7.3 Qard Hasan, Wajib and Trabuts: Credit relations, reciprocity and mutual aid... 26

7.4 Financial Institutions

7.4.1 Banks

7.4.2 Sandugs

–  –  –

8 Business Women and Finance

8.1 Types of Business

8.2 Financing the Business

8.3 Dealing with the Moral Economy

9 Microcredit Programs for Women in Greater Khartoum

9.1 General Remarks

9.2 The Projects in Umbedda and Ha Yussif

9.3 The clients

9.2.1 Background of the Clients

9.3.2 Decision to Get the Credit

9.3.3 Control over the Credit and the Business Activities

9.3.4 Paying Back the Credit

9.4 Evaluating the Projects

9.4.1 Sustainability: Success and failure

9.4.2 Poverty Alleviation

9.4.3 Empowerment

10 Conclusion

11 References

List of tables Table of Activities

–  –  –

1 Introduction Up to the 1970s, the idea that women should do their productive and reproductive work at home was not challenged in most of the local cultures of Northern Sudan, especially in the cities of the Nile valley. Especially married women of childbearing age were supposed to leave the house only for ritual and social occasions. Men used to go shopping for the women, who have been responsible for preparing food and serving meals for their families and visitors (BEKRI and KAMEIT, 1990). Men also sold goods produced within the family unit but were obliged to use the money for the family, e.g., for buying food and fulfilling social obligations.

However below this level of official rules and norms, women have been economically active and contributed substantially to the well being of the family. Beside their reproductive work, depending on the local culture they were working in markets, in agriculture, handicraft and trading. Furthermore, women have been part of social networks which have been essential for the well being of the families.

As the Sudanese economy has become market oriented, the rapid commercialisation of daily life has emphasised the need for cash. Furthermore, liberalisation policies and structural adjustment made money essential for getting access to social infrastructure as education and health services. At the same times salaries in the formal sector did not increase with the rising costs of living. Because of this many women started to earn money outside their families. This has challenged the traditional norm of the male provider of the family. Furthermore the access to education has fostered a process in which young men and women started to challenge traditional gender norms. At the same time due to migration and the breakdown of families more women are acting as heads of households.

However, women are still active in the household economy and social networking. This female economy is based on reciprocity and is linked to the commercial sector by the provision of financial needs. Credit systems like wajib are still the base of mutual aid and security in rural and urban Sudan.

The saving habits and credit relations of the women are therefore not only influenced by market oriented forces but also by the needs of the household economy, because savings and credits are transferred from one sphere to the other. Therefore, financial institutions are useful for studying the interface of different economic spheres. In the following report we will enquire how Sudanese women use the financial institutions they have access to in order to organise their lives between market, household, and the community. Furthermore by looking into the household and the community, we want to analyse the engendered structure of these institutions.

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