FinEquity Webinar

What Works for Women: Unpacking Women’s Economic Empowerment Barriers and Opportunities

Photo credit: Allison Shelley


Access slides, reference materials and a recording of the webinar.


Many barriers inhibit women’s access to and usage of financial services, and their impacts vary across geographies. In some markets, lack of identification prevents women from accessing accounts, whereas in others, unclear information about products or services might inhibit active usage. Understanding the barriers facing women in specific contexts and how we might mitigate or remove them allows for more appropriate approaches and programs. 

With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GRID Impact and SIA have conducted research over the past year to examine these barriers and determine which are most resonant to different segments of women in various markets. These efforts have led to a set of recommendations about the kinds of interventions and programs that might help remove, mitigate or address barriers so women can access and use a range of financial services that fit their needs.

This interactive session shared the key elements of this research effort, including:

  • A barriers and opportunities analysis – an evidence review of 35 barriers resulting from a mapping process of customer segments in nine focus countries, and a presentation of the most relevant barriers for each market.
  • The Enablers and Exemplars reference guide – an overview of evidence-based interventions and programs that have shown success in addressing a range of barriers women face in accessing and using financial services.
  • An introduction to a work-in-progress diagnostic tool that can be used by women’s financial inclusion stakeholders to determine priority barriers to women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion (WEE-FI) in a specific market.  

During this session we heard from WEE-FI experts on the challenges and opportunities they face in not only closing the gender gap in financial inclusion but driving active usage of a range of financial services that might support women in gaining more trust, agency and control over their financial lives. 

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This event is part of the World Bank Group’s yearlong Gender Equality and Development +10: Accelerate Equality initiative, which explores the important progress made and lessons learned over the last 10 years in closing gender gaps and promoting girl's and women's empowerment and drives for transformative change in the future.  

It provides an opportunity to showcase successes, learn, and develop ideas and further momentum for the future of gender equality and women’s leadership, while taking stock of remaining challenges and strengthening partnerships in the quest to #AccelerateEquality.


About this event

COP Webinar
COP Topics:
Women's Economic Empowerment, Gender Norms
Photo courtesy of Alex Fiorillo

Alexandra Fiorillo

GRID Impact

Alex is a recognized strategic facilitator and equity and human-centered designer and researcher who serves as Principal of GRID Impact. She has 20 years of experience in the financial inclusion and DFS spaces - designing products, services and policies that benefit historically underinvested-in communities. She has worked in over 40 countries on five continents, and has collaborated with diverse partners ranging from grassroots organizations in the Amazon jungle to banking regulators in Zambia. For the last four years, she has served as a Consultant to the Financial Services for the Poor Gender Team team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as to other initiatives at the Foundation focused on digital payments systems, systems changes within financial inclusion, and innovation in products and services. 

Photo courtesy of Wanza Mbole

Wanza Mbole

FSD Kenya

Wanza Mbole is a Senior economic inclusion advisor, leading FSD Kenya’s economic inclusion work. Her motivation is ensuring that all Kenyans, especially women, have the agency and access to the institutions and resources to effectively contribute to and optimally benefit from economic development. She has spent the last two decades facilitating financial inclusion for the lower segment of the market, which is either financially excluded or under-served, through various innovations. She is also the Gender lead, supporting the team in integrating gender into program activities. 

Photo courtesy of Hamilton McNutt

Hamilton McNutt

Strategic Impact Advisors

Hamilton is co-founder and COO of Strategic Impact Advisors (SIA) where he both manages the firm’s daily operations (including many an internal digital transformation) and also leads technical areas focusing on delivering access to relevant services for the poor through digital channels, including financial services.  Hamilton has supported the development of a wide variety of interventions and training curriculums that put women at the center of their design. He has over 15 years of experience focusing on the cross-section between international development and digital financial services.  He believes strongly in the potential of digital channels to improve service delivery models for rural populations, but also knows digital tools must be complemented with human interactions for deployments to be successful.  

Photo courtesy of Amna Awan

Amna Awan

Karandaaz Pakistan

Amna Awan is Gender Advisor for the Digital Financial Services team at Karandaaz Pakistan, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UK’s FCDO. She is responsible for ensuring women’s financial inclusion by following a mainstreaming approach in the various public sector and private sector interventions executed by the team. Prior to Karandaaz, she has been responsible for women’s economic empowerment at the DFAT-funded Market Development Facility and USAID-funded Small and Medium Enterprises Activity. Other employers include UNDP’s Merged Areas project, Kashf Microfinance Bank and the Ministry of Finance Liberia. Amna has a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and an undergrad degree in finance from the Lahore University of Management Sciences.