FinDev Blog

Making the Gender Gap Visible

An overview of demand-side data on women’s financial inclusion
Sorting fish. Photo credit: Jaya Rakshit, 2015 CGAP Photo Contest.

Understanding the existing financial inclusion data landscape, and parsing through the mountain of data to find meaningful patterns to advance women’s financial inclusion can be overwhelming. Furthermore, global data sets, historically, have not been sex disaggregated, which adds to the present difficulties of measuring progress in women’s financial inclusion.

However, there has been a general recognition among the development community that robust evidence and data to document the economic gains and the business case for gender equality is needed. This has resulted in a flurry of data initiatives to improve the quality, availability, and use of sex disaggregated data for financial inclusion - from the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) data portal, which provides information on government targets for women’s financial inclusion, to the World Bank’s Global Findex database, where you can access data on individuals’ use of financial services and conduct your own analyses. But, there are still gaps in the data being collected on women as well as a general understanding around the varied uses of these different data sets for financial inclusion policy making.

The Working Group on Measurement and Data within CGAP’s Women’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice (COP) aims to shed more light on this topic. Through a series of online learning events, the COP will take a deep-dive into the demand and supply-side data sets on financial inclusion, using a gender lens to understand data availability, limitations, and challenges.

On September 27, 2017, the Working Group on Measurement and Data kicked off these learning events with a webinar titled "An overview of demand-side survey data sets on women's financial inclusion." Panelists for this webinar included:

  • Saara Romu, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
  • Leora Klapper, Lead Economist for the World Bank’s Global Findex;
  • Nadia Van de Walle, Program Manager for InterMedia’s Financial Inclusion Insights (FII);
  • Abel Motsomi, Research Specialist at FinMark Trust’s FinScope and Insight 2 Impact (i2i) platform.

These diverse data sets present an opportunity for practitioners, stakeholders and policy-makers alike.

In case you missed it, here’s what we learned:

  • For the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, women’s economic empowerment is a major priority and there is a keen understanding that to have data-driven policy, we must first have the data. The Foundation has committed USD 80 million to gender data and advocacy work to understand and amplify the issues around financial inclusion data. The Foundation supports and leverages data sets provided by the World Bank, InterMedia, and FinMark Trust to provide an interlinked holistic view of the issues faced in advancing economic empowerment of women and girls.
  • The World Bank's Global Findex database is the most globally comprehensive demand-side database on financial inclusion that provides in-depth data on how women save, borrow, make payments, and manage risks. It has a distinct advantage in its breadth of country coverage. Since its first release in 2011, the data set consistently measures people’s use of financial services across countries and over time. The 2014 Global Findex consists of over 100 indicators, shown by gender, income, and age – and is particularly useful for policy makers and donor agencies in shaping further country diagnostics and evaluating initiatives aimed at broadening inclusion of women. The data is collected in partnership with Gallup Inc. by purchasing time on the Gallup World Poll Survey. This model of purchasing time on existing surveys is an efficient way of administering surveys on priority topics at marginal cost.
  • While InterMedia’s Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) and FinMark Trust’s FinScope surveys do not cover as many countries as the Global Findex, they do have broad questionnaires that capture more finely nuanced issues. InterMedia’s FII Program and online data platform was conceived in 2013, and has conducted annual nationally representative surveys in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania and Uganda. The sample size is typically high to allow for sub-national representation. Unlike other data sets, FII works with national statistics bureaus and field offices to employ the Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) which scores answers to 10 questions about a household’s characteristics and asset ownership to compute the likelihood that the household is living below or close to the poverty line. FII also collects geographic, demographic and psychographic measures for adults (age 15+), which allows for various segmentations of the findings by target populations.
  • FinMark Trust’s FinScope surveys are nationally representative and provide insight into attitudes and perceptions regarding financial products and services. Sample size varies by country, and so far, 29 countries have conducted FinScope Consumer surveys. FinScope data is not comparable across countries on all indicators because often industry players will contribute to the cost of the survey and help tailor the questionnaire to meet multiple needs. This has the added advantage of providing insights that are particularly timely and relevant for the given market - for instance, a mobile money survey module to understand usage patterns of mobile users in Kenya, or a survey module to understand savings groups and participation patterns in Burkina Faso.

Garment workers in Bangladesh. Photo credit: AM Ahad, 2014 CGAP Photo Contest.

Like the Global Findex and FII, FinScope survey data are accessible using the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) MAP data portal, which links demand-side data to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or via the newly launched Insight 2 Impact (i2i) platform.

These diverse data sets present an opportunity for practitioners, stakeholders and policy-makers alike. Often, consumption and usage of these data sets by the financial inclusion community are confined to the findings presented in pre-determined dashboards with high-level takeaways. However, given that the raw microdata, survey questionnaires, and data codebooks are publicly accessible, it would serve the financial inclusion community well for stakeholders, practitioners, and policy-makers to provide their own context-based analysis by leveraging these data sets and commissioning reports. This will not only help identify gender data gaps, but also enhance the existing knowledge and insights relevant to women’s financial inclusion.

The Working Group on Measurement and Data within the Women’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice will continue to engage the financial inclusion community on these platforms and data sets to inform and explore data gaps and use-cases.

Subscribe to the Women’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice mailing list to receive information on upcoming webinars and events.

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