The influence of formal education on resource mobilization and sustainability of informal women groups in Kenya: a study of Vihiga division, Vihiga district in Western Province
Opiayo, Peter Mabubi
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The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of formal education on resource mobilization and sustainability of women groups in Vihiga Division, Vihiga District, Western Province, Kenya. The study was necessitated by the fact that there lacks adequate evidence on the influence of formal education and training on resource mobilization for sustainability of informal women groups found in rural areas. Informal women groups found in rural areas are useful to women as they help cater for their socio-economic welfare. To effectively meet this need and enhance the sustainance and growth of their groups resource mobilization and utilization is vital. However, available literature reveal that support from the Government and donors often concentrate on the urban elitist women groups living out rural informal women groups whose members have no or little formal education. Such informal group are locally based in villages and do not have employed staff or offices. Consequently, many of these groups engage in income generating activities as a way of mobilizing resources for economic empowerment. Unfortunately many of the rural groups are unable to mobilize adequate resources hence become dormant or collapse. In many studies the influence of formal education and training of leaders and members of these groups has not been addressed. This study was conducted in Vihiga Division. The study adopted ethnographic research design, which commits to study on-going events in socio-cultural context without affecting their process and context. Three informal women groups were context without affecting their process and context. Three informal women groups were cluster-sumbled for the study. The names of the sample groups were Elementary Women Group, Muungano Women Group and Mkulima Women Group.Data was collected from sixtyeight respondents, through interviews, oral questioning, participant observation and content analysis. Collected data was organized in frequency counts and converted to percentages. The study found out that a majority of leaders and members of informal women groups had primary education, few had secondary education and some were illiterate. Secondly, the study established that the level of formal training of leaders and members of informal groups influenced the choice of income generating activities.in.groups where members had formal education, there were diversified income generating activities well managed to benefit the members. Thirdly it was established that the level of formal education and training of leaders and members of informal women groups influenced group sustaining. Study groups whose members had acquired formal education showed better leadership, higher participation in group activities and social cohesion. Lastly the study established that rural informal women groups have been useful to socially and economically empower women and help enhance gender equity in education by generating income that women have used to pay fees and other education requirements particularly for their girls. The study recommends that policies for the support of rural informal women groups should be put in place to empower women, develop rural economy and enhance girl participation in education.