A comparative study of economic power between Zambian women of Asian origin and indigenous Zambian women of Lusaka
Husain, Nusrat R.
MetadataShow full item record
This comparative study between indigenous Zambian women and Zambian women of Asian origin tried to ascertain the extent to which women gained economic power/independence by either gaining access to credit or just being wage earners. For this purpose the researcher examined the extent of influence of socio-cultural factors on the utilization of credit or one's own cash earning. Also examined were the factors that affect women's utilization of economic power at the household level. The primary source of data for this study was the indigenous women and women of Asian origin who had had access to loans/credit and those who were wage earners. This comprised 60 indigenous women and 40 women of Asian origin. These women were from different socio-economic backgrounds and belonged to different age groups. The major findings were: Though both the indigenous women and women of Asian origin were involved in various economic activities, the latter group was more involved in service activities and the majority were involved in family business. The former group of women were more willing to work away from home than the latter group. It was thus inferred that women of Asian origin were more constrained by socio-cultural values and norms than the indigenous women. It was questioned whether women were educationally and culturally in a position to demand and obtain credit. Very few women had applied and received loans from formal credit organisation. This maybe be because of the low level of education of the respondents which makes it difficult for the respondents to understand the cumbersome applicatign procedures. As women are still bound to their cultural/traditional expectations, it becomes difficult for women to demand credit without their husbands consent. Hence, even culturally women are not socialised to make independent decisions. It was hypothesised that "Access to credit or being a wage earner does not lead to an increase in the economic independence of the women." This was found to be more true in the case of indigenous women than the women of Asian origin. Thus women are not educationally and culturally prepared to demand and obtain credit for self directed purposes. Further, the research highlighted that women have therefore to be trained, especially through non-formal educational programmes and also the cultural attitudes of both men and women have to become more positive towards women demanding and obtaining credit without necessarily needing the man's consent. In so far as the participation of women in decision making at the household and community levels was concerned, it was found that both categories of women have always in one way or another participated in decision making at the household level. It was not possible to ascertain the type of participation and in what issues of concerns do men and women participate. At the community level, most women, regardless of being an indigenous women or women of Asian origin, participated in church activities. Finally, the research highlighted that socio-cultural factors do affect the utilization of economic power and/or independence. Women are still bound to their cultural expectations, even though many are independent of their relatives.