Researchers at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School illustrated the immense impact that financial autonomy can have on the lives of SA’s most economically vulnerable women. Surveying 300 black Avon independent distributors, the researchers found that after 16 months or more, these previously disadvantaged women were earning enough not only to meet their household expenses, but their income put them in the top half of black woman and on par with black South African men.
Nearly seven out of 10 survey respondents lived in households where a woman was t he primary breadwinner. The impact extended well beyond just lifting women out of poverty; the respondents felt empowered. In a country in which just 38% of black women have access to banking, 92% of Avon women had their own bank account and a similar number said that they had learned skills from Avon that could be transferred to other employment.
Professor Linda Scott, who led the project, commented: “I was not prepared for the way the women felt about it. We came to call it ‘ lipstick evangelism’.”