Collegium Helveticum
Β© Emma Mavodza
Fellow Project 2023–2024

The Role of Social Norms in Digital Financial Inclusion of Women in Eswatini

The project takes an ethnographic approach to address two key questions: First, what are the existing social norms on financial access and usage? And secondly, how do these existing social norms moderate mobile money access and usage among unbanked women in the informal sector in Eswatini?

In this project, Emma suggests that limited financial access and provision of unsuitable services continue to be a catalyst for the reproduction of socio-economic marginality. She explains how existing social norms moderate mobile money access and usage experiences of women in the informal sector in her aim to demarginalise and politicise their diverse experiences and plural voices. Emma strives to understand financial inclusion and/or exclusion from the women’s perspective, specifically, their understandings of how mobile money use generates new forms of social and economic opportunity and vulnerability. She further explicates, how, through references to existing social norms of reciprocity, solidarity, and mutuality, different sets of financial relationships and transactional practices emerge as pre-existing payment structures are able to reproduce themselves in new fields of digital economic activity.