FinDev Guide

FinDev Guide to Women's Financial Inclusion

For International Women's Day 2023, we share the latest blogs and research on financial services that work for women
Woman wearing headscarf by water faucet in Niger.

International Women's Day is always an excellent time to take stock and review what we have learned over the last year on women's financial inclusion, as well as what we still need to work on. This Guide features a curated selection of the research and blogs published in the past year on a range of relevant topics, from gender lens investing to financial diaries of women traders. In particular, recent research has highlighted the importance of woman-centered design processes to make sure that digital financial services and savings work for women.

A newer topic that is still being explored is the connection between women's financial inclusion and climate change. While we only have one publication focused on this topic from the past year, we expect to see more in the coming year as FinEquity and other organizations delve into this area.

If you know of any publications we have missed, we invite you to share them with us.
>> View all FinDev blog posts on gender and women's empowerment.
>> View all publications on gender and women's empowerment.

Recent Blogs on Women's Financial Inclusion

Finding Our Collective Direction Towards Women's Economic Empowerment

Aude de Montesquiou, Global Facilitator for FinEquity, discusses the community of practice's current work and future ambitions to support women.

Blazing a Trail for Women’s Financial Inclusion in Nigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria has identified eight Strategic Imperatives. With their respective communities of practice, they aim to close the country’s financial inclusion gender gap.

Maximizing the Impact of Financial Inclusion for Young Women

Research has shown that financial inclusion can contribute to improvements in both financial and non-financial outcomes for young women. However, the ~590 million young women in the world (defined as women ages 15-24) are a tremendously diverse group, transitioning through different life stages within vastly different contexts. Considering these differences, among which segments of young women could improved financial services make the most impact? 

Applying a Gender Lens to Digital Remittances

Digital remittances can form a gateway to better financial health and inclusion for migrants and their families. Yet one key factor influencing remittance behavior is often overlooked: gender.

Is Fintech Always Inclusive?

An IMF working paper looks at who fintech is helping and who it is leaving behind, using cross-country and emerging fintech data to see if fintech use is associated with narrowing class, rural and gender divides.

How to Invest With a Gender Lens

While adopting gender-smart strategies is something every investor should strive for - both because it is the right thing to do and because it makes good business sense - there is no straightforward roadmap for how to do it.

Recent Publications on Women's Financial Inclusion Policy

Pacific Insurance and Climate Adaptation Programme: Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Strategy

This report describes PICAP’s approach towards achieving and mainstreaming gender equality and social inclusion to ensure that women and the most vulnerable are fully represented in climate disaster risk financing products (e.g., parametric insurance).

Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Diagnostic for the Finance Sector in Bangladesh

This report assesses how Bangladesh is cutting gaps in gender equality and social inclusion in financial services and shows how support for women entrepreneurs alongside better technology access can boost sustainable development.

Guidance on Financial Services for Women

Check Your Bias! A Field Guide for Lenders

This practical field guide walks executives and data scientists through recommendations for ensuring that revised and new credit scoring methods are not unintentionally excluding women or any other underrepresented group.

Financial Inclusion that Works for Women: Lessons and Best Practices from the European Microfinance Award 2022

This paper presents the 10 finalists and semi-finalists of the 2022 European Microfinance Award as case studies within three broad approaches that FSPs can take: Meeting women's needs through financial products and services; Mainstreaming gender equity and leadership within the institution; and Empowering women with non-financial services. 

Gender Norms in Financial Inclusion: Diagnostic Guidance

The Diagnostic Guidance is intended for funders and facilitators who support women’s financial inclusion efforts and who want to gain behavioral insights into the uptake and usage of financial services among women.

Digital Finance That Works for Women

Empowering Women Micro-Entrepreneurs Through Mobile

This landscape report sheds light on how women micro-entrepreneurs use mobile for business in low- and middle-income countries.

Making Digital Platforms Work for Women in Rural Agricultural Livelihoods

The primary objectives of this work were to understand how platform-specific responses can unlock social and economic value, identify best practices and provide guidance to key stakeholders to improve platform services for rural women.

Digital Financial Literacy via E-commerce: Implications for Bangladesh, Especially for Women in Business

This paper explores and evaluates the best ways to reach the less digitally and financially literate segments of the community in Bangladesh, especially women, to ensure that ultimately no one is left behind.

Responsible Digitization of Small Entrepreneurs in Rural India

This report presents key insights and opportunities from Hindustan Unilever Limited’s business-to-business Shakti digitization program to implement the UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments and build scale.

Informed Design: A Case Study Series (Tyme Group)

This is one of several case studies looking at the role of design in digital financial services (DFS) for women focusing on examples where research findings have translated into design that has eased and encouraged women’s use of DFS.

Women in the Platform Economy: Emerging Insights

This slide deck shares female workers’ experiences and how financial services can help make platforms more inclusive.

Informed Design: A Case Study Series (UNCDF/WMBL)

This study examines Women's Micro Bank Limited and UNCDF's design of a branchless banking solution, the Mama Bank Access Point initiative, which serves unbanked women in rural Papua New Guinea.

Savings That Work for Women

Driving Formal Savings: What Works for Low-Income Women

Building on findings from a recent customer research, this learning paper aims to understand what services female customers value, prioritize and need.

Remote Coaching to Prevent Dormancy Among Low-Income Savers

Research findings from Uganda sharing results from qualitative interviews with women who report greater sense of trust and relationship with the bank and improved saving behavior as a result of coaching.

"Yes I Get It. Small Deposits Do Make Sense." - Lessons From a Pilot With Airtel Payments Bank on Client Communication

This slide deck charts the journey of a pilot on behavioral communication to encourage women to make small saving deposits.

Market and Client Research

Financial Access of Women-Owned Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Viet Nam

This working paper identifies challenges in access to finance for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises  in Viet Nam and recommends ways to improve it.

Women in Open-air and Cross-Border Trade In Kenya: Insights From the Financial Diaries Research

This report shares findings from a financial diaries research MFC conducted to enhance the quality and usage of digital financial services among female traders in Kenya.

Sharia Finance & Women's Financial Inclusion in Indonesia

Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims of any country in the world, at 237 million. This study looks at whether Sharia finance may better work for women's financial inclusion.

Understanding Women’s Access to Credit and Loans

This publication offers an overview and gender-disaggregated data analysis of the Nigerian lending market, and provides valuable insights on 100 million adult Nigerians' behaviors and financial preferences.

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