Finding Our Collective Direction Towards Women's Economic Empowerment
Aude de Montesquiou is the Facilitator of FinEquity, the Community of Practice for women's financial inclusion convened by CGAP. Aude worked at CGAP from 2005 to 2017, last as Financial Sector Development Specialist, leading CGAP’s Graduating the Poorest and Vulnerable Segments work. Most recently, Aude has been Senior Advisor at BRAC’s Institute for Governance and Development working on digital innovations for Economic Inclusion programs. With close to 20 years of experience in financial inclusion, livelihoods, and social protection, Aude provides technical advice to economic inclusion programs worldwide.
Aude de Montesquiou rejoined CGAP in mid-2022 as the Global Facilitator for FinEquity, a community of practice convened by CGAP which aims to empower women through financial inclusion. Aude sat down with us in the lead-up to International Women’s Day to discuss FinEquity’s current work and future ambitions to support women.
FinDev Gateway: FinEquity plays an important role in advancing women’s economic empowerment through financial inclusion. Can you tell us what the community of practice has been up to recently?
Aude: One of FinEquity’s key areas of work as a community is the development of resources to support behavior change that promotes women’s financial inclusion. At the moment, we are finalizing a learning brief that aims to support financial service providers (FSPs) to advance gender equality across all levels of their organizations. The brief will act as a map for FSPs to use FinEquity’s three recent knowledge guides on gender diversity and leadership, gender data and analysis, and gender-intelligent design. These guides feature a host of tools and relevant trainings for FSPs to become more gender inclusive.
FinEquity will also be hosting a series of workshops with FSPs at the global level and through our regional hubs in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean to disseminate the guides and to follow up with FSPs on their experiences with implementing the tools and trainings in their work.
Women are the primary victims of climate change, and as a result they are often in the best position to inform what mitigation and adaptation efforts should look like.
FinDev: FinEquity recently held its 2023 Annual Meeting. What were your key takeaways from the event?
Aude: The FinEquity 2023 Annual Meeting brought our community together to talk about how financial inclusion can be used as a tool to advance both women’s economic empowerment and a fairer climate transition. We had a great turnout this year – with over 500 people participating over the course of the two-day event – which speaks to the importance of this topic for women’s financial inclusion.
Throughout the discussions that took place, a number of key takeaways emerged. First, that women are the primary victims of climate change, and as a result they are often in the best position to inform what mitigation and adaptation efforts should look like. It is critical that they are involved across value chains in the design and use of financial products that are addressing their climate challenges, and that they have equal access to these products.
Second, we need to be emphasizing to FSPs that the climate and gender nexus is a unique opportunity for them to gain from both a business perspective and a societal perspective. We heard about a number of business models that are delivering strong results: from solar energy PAYGO to asset financing to women’s savings groups. We need to build on the success of these models as we move forward.
As a community of practice, we always want to involve our members in determining our collective direction.
FinDev: What are the biggest priorities for FinEquity moving forward?
Aude: The nexus that links climate change and women’s financial inclusion is certainly a priority area for the community, which we explored during our Annual Meeting. Another key topic is advancing the measurement of women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in financial inclusion. We will be hosting a webinar next week to discuss a proposed set of WEE indicators that were developed over the past year.
As a community of practice, we always want to involve our members in determining our collective direction. With this in mind, we have just launched a global consultation that will guide our priority areas for the coming year. The goal is to hear from our members so that we can best advance our collective progress on women’s financial inclusion. We will be running an online consultation to capture these insights until April 2023, and we would be grateful if those working in the sector could spare five minutes of their time to complete the questionnaire and share their input!
Learn more about FinEquity, a community of practice convened by CGAP which aims to empower women through financial inclusion.
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