Combining Health Calendars and Cash:

Building Formal Financial and Health Numeracy Among Poor Women in Northern Pakistan

with Dr. Salima Meherali, PhD, RN
1:30 - 2:00 pm

There is increasing recognition that economically empowering women is essential both to realize women’s rights and to achieve broader Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The financial inclusion of women in Pakistan is very low as compared to other LMICs. Gender inequality is very prevalent in many rural areas of Pakistan such as Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral (GBC), one of Pakistan’s fifth provinces. The Labour Market Assessment shows that only 17% of women participate in paid labour, and 50% of women are completely illiterate. 

The Faculty of Nursing of the University of Alberta, Aga Khan Rural Support Program Pakistan and My Oral Village (MOVE) will work together and implement Oral Information Management solutions to build on the abilities of oral women to use images and other visual cues to develop financial and numeracy skills. We will design savings passbooks using relevant images and icons drawn from the local context to guide the users when recording their transactions (i.e., the passbook will be “oralized”). In addition, a maternal health and child growth calendar will also be oralized to promote women’s and child health outcomes. These paper-based tools will be reinforced by 4Share, a cash calculator that runs offline and has been ready to be tested in Pakistan.

Our OIM formal numeracy and health numeracy intervention for illiterate/low-literate and innumerate/low-numerate women will play an important role in supporting women’s economic empowerment and achieving gender equality by promoting access, control over financial resources, and financial and health decision making into the hands of the beneficiary.


Salima Meherali, PhD, RN, is an Assistant Professor at University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing. She is an early career researcher and her research program comprises of three areas of inquiry –immigrant adolescent/youth in Canada, mental health and sexual and reproductive health and rights of immigrant youth in Canada and in low and middle-income countries, and theorizing gender intersections within vulnerable populations. As a principal investigator, she has been involved in community based participatory action research projects to actively engage with adolescents/youth to evaluate their mental health and sexual and reproductive health needs in Canada and in global health context.