Closing the gender gap in financial inclusion on a large scale

October 16, 2017

More than 2 billion people lack access to a financial account — with women, the poor, and youth facing the greatest barriers to access. In developing countries, only 50% of women have a bank account compared to 59% of men, according to the 2014 Global Findex report. Yet with access to loans, savings, and insurance, financial services can help the world’s poor to prosper. With access to a financial account, women and youth are better able to manage risks, save money, overcome emergencies, and invest in education or business opportunities.

IDRC has been supporting the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) in its efforts to promote the policies that facilitate financial inclusion throughout the developing world since 2016. Our three-year partnership is already bearing fruit in the area of digital financial services, which are key to making financial accounts more accessible to the poor. In Paraguay, for example, as a result of IDRC-supported meetings organized by the Alliance, the central bank, and the country’s financial industry players, the central bank is revising its regulatory framework to facilitate mobile transactions. The company that handles most of Paraguay’s electronic money transactions also reduced its fees from 5% to 3%. These changes will make it easier for financial service providers to offer more affordable electronic products to women and youth who don’t have access to financial services.

The Alliance comprises more than 100 member institutions representing over 90 nations around the world. IDRC’s support contributed to the creation of the Financial Inclusion Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean in November 2016 to help accelerate financial inclusion efforts across the region. This initiative is developing new knowledge and fostering learning to improve the regulatory environment, support technological innovation, and help close the gender gap to improve financial inclusion.

“Our partnership with AFI, and our expertise in evidence to action, places IDRC at the forefront of innovative solutions to foster financial inclusion for women,”
said Federico Burone, IDRC regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

A key component of our support for the Alliance is its Action Plan for Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion. The plan identifies the measures members can take to reduce the number of women who lack access to quality financial services globally. At the Alliance’s annual global policy forum in Egypt in September 2017, more than 1,000 senior financial inclusion policymakers, regulators, international organizations, and the private sector discussed national financial inclusion strategies and policies that are more gender-focused.

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