Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Financial Inclusion: A Review of Existing Evidence and Remaining Knowledge Gaps

What do we know about the impact of different financial products on outcomes for women?

While there is a growing body of evidence surrounding the impact of financial inclusion and the importance of product design in achieving desired welfare impact outcomes, there remains much to learn about the ways in which formal financial products and services can contribute to women’s economic empowerment.

This review finds that, overall, financial service providers and other stakeholders can leverage appropriate product design features to overcome some of these barriers to women’s financial inclusion. Even so, broader social constraints related to intra-household bargaining power and the social status of women may continue to limit the broader impact of financial inclusion on women’s economic empowerment. There is a need for further evidence on effective product-led strategies to address these barriers and improve economic empowerment outcomes for women. 

The paper is organized by product and presents the existing evidence on the impact of savings, credit, payments, and insurance products on women’s economic empowerment outcomes, as well as the remaining open research questions in each area. The studies included in this review are limited to those designed as randomized control trials (RCTs), widely considered to be the gold standard in impact evaluation methodology.

About this Publication

By Holloway, K., Niazi, Z. , Rouse, R.