Digital financial services, women empowerment and maternal mental wellbeing. An ethnographic study in rural Kenya

Project Period

October 2022 - October 2022

Women’s economic empowerment (WEE) improves the health and well-being of households. Unfortunately, many women are still not empowered. The women are not active participants in economic decisions and have low bargaining power in households and in the community. Access to digital financial services contributes to the economic empowerment of women. What is still not clear is the pathway by which women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and access to digital financial services (DFS) interconnect with maternal mental health. Poor maternal well-being affects their role as caregivers and the normal functioning of the woman and contribution to the community

This study seeks to examine the interrelationship between access to and use of DFS on economic empowerment and maternal mental well-being in Kakamega, Kenya. We will use an ethnographic approach to provide an in-depth and rich description of the relationships between the DFSs, WEE, and maternal well-being in participants’ natural settings.

The following are specific objectives:

  1. To describe women’s experiences with access and use of digital financial services in the rural population.
  2. To determine the influence of digital financial services access in intra- and inter-household spending.
  3. To understand the in-depth role of digital financial services in improving maternal mental health outcomes.
  4. To explore the mediating effects of maternal mental health on women empowerment
  5. To add in-depth insights to the quantitative impact findings resulting from the recent i-PUSH project. 

Research team

  • Caroline Wainaina – Principle investigator
  • Dr. Emmy Igonya – Ethnographer
  • Prof Wendy Janssen-Health Economics consultant

Project period

  • Start Date: November 2021
  • End Date: December 2022


  • Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Development funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.