Palms Participant Dianne Hanna (feature photo) developed financial literacy skills within the Diocese and Parish of Maliana, Timor Leste in 2016-2020. She writes of an inspiring women below.
With International Women’s Day approaching I wanted to recognise a remarkable woman I was fortunate enough to meet.
For just over four years I volunteered overseas as an accountant working with local partners to develop capacity in financial systems and processes. I lived in community with the local partners which is where I met Mana Beba. While we lived in the same bairo (neighbourhood) it was only in the last few months of my stay that we properly met and she shared her story with me.
It was inspiring to hear how she formed several women’s groups both in the bairo we both lived in and those surrounding ours. These groups would meet once a month with the aim that they would pool their savings and invest so as to improve their future possibilities. They would talk about the financial commitment each would have to make so that the investment would be viable. They would discuss strategies of how they could generate the money needed to make the contributions. They would discern how to manage the investment and the return it was generating and ways to diversify what they were doing to make a better return.
I knew some of the women that attended the group in our bairo and they were so empowered by what they were achieving and the financial stability it would create for them and their family. Many of the women were either single mothers or the main income earner for their families and were usually domestic workers.
With research finding that women have lower financial literacy than men this project Mana Beba embarked on looks to improve that outcome for women in her community. With research also finding that low literacy rates dramatically impacts the lives of women, demanding they work harder and sometimes settle for earning less I would also say her groups are life changing to the women in them.
Mana Beba’s husband was pretty cool to. He was ex military and was retired due to injury. He supported his wife and cared for the kids so Mana Bena had the time to establish and support these women groups that was making it possible for these women to see a better financial future.
I am so inspired by Mana Beba and what she has achieved in her community.