Welcome to financialdiaries.org

by Guy Stuart
11 months ago

The Financial Diaries methodology is an extraordinarily powerful research tool for collecting data on the economic behavior of people who otherwise are invisible to the rest of the world—invariably people with low incomes, and especially women and marginalized populations. The data can be used to see how people manage their day-to-day cash flows as well as shining a light on how they respond to emergencies or accumulate assets. Such information is important to those interested in developing financial tools that can help people manage their cash flows, respond appropriately to emergencies, and accumulate assets to improve their own well-being and the well-being of their families in the long-run.

But as the Garment Worker Diaries (GWD) have shown the Diaries methodology can also be adapted to serve other purposes. In this case, the Diaries have provided insights into the pay, hours, and work conditions of women who work in factories where they make the world’s clothes. Among many findings, the GWD revealed how women working in factories do not receive the pay to which they are legally entitled, however low that may be. They also revealed a wide variety of different intra-household gender dynamics that defy easy cultural stereotypes about the role of women in a particular society.

In the same way, MFO used the Energy Diaries to track the use of energy from various sources in the day-to-day activities of low-income households in India. The data demonstrated how households used a mix of energy sources, for example both firewood and natural gas for cooking or kerosene and electric lamps, to meet their energy needs. The Diaries also highlighted the role of women in the energy dynamics of a household, given their importance as gatherers of “free range” fuels such as wood and dung and their importance as users of energy in cooking and working at home.

There are numerous other potential uses for the Diaries methodology and we at MFO hope that this site will inspire new uses of and innovations in the methodology.  We would also like to invite those who are currently engaged in Diaries projects to consider sharing their reports and data through this site, either directly or through links to their own sites.