Financial services can help women assert their economic power and promote gender equity by acting as a core enabler for their self-employment, asset accumulation and greater decision-making. The provision, delivery and usage of appropriately designed products and services can help support women’s paid and unpaid labor by promoting labor saving devices, consumption smoothing, financial risk management and increased intra-household bargaining power.
Yet in spite of significant progress toward achieving global financial inclusion in recent years, roughly 1 billion women living in the poorest 40% of developing-country households remain outside the formal financial system, according to the Global Findex database. Furthermore, women lag significantly behind men in terms of access to formal credit and savings, with only 50% of women in the developing world owning an account, compared to 59% for men. This gap is even starker in developing regions such as the Middle East where women are half as likely to own an account as men and South Asia where there is an 18-percentage point gender gap in account ownership.
The reasons behind women’s financial exclusion vary by country and region and are rooted in gendered economic norms at all levels of the market system that affect women’s access to and uptake of meaningful financial services. Increasingly, financial service providers, donors and practitioners are trying to close this gender gap by identifying innovative approaches, product designs and delivery mechanisms that can address the underlying barriers to women’s financial inclusion. Furthermore, there is a renewed interest in reexamining how financial inclusion initiatives can be better leveraged to ensure women’s economic empowerment and the achievement of a broader range of sustainable development goals.
What can you find in this Topic Hub?
Curated by FinDev editors, this Topic Hub offers you access to key resources contributed by organizations around the world who work on the topic of women's financial inclusion. Our latest blogs and publications on this topic are featured here (in the Resources Tab above), and you can find a collection of papers, case studies and guides to explore further. When there are upcoming webinars, events and recent news on this topic, they will be featured in the Topic Hub as well, so make sure to come back regularly for the latest on this topic. Finally, we’ve selected some key additional resources, which are listed on the right here, where you can learn even more about this topic.
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The guiding hypothesis of this research is that technical know-how and leadership competencies will enable executives to drive women’s financial inclusion on a greater scale than ever before
In honor of International Women’s Day, we share a curated list of key resources from FinEquity, the women’s financial inclusion community of practice convened by CGAP.
A review of the literature finds that combining microfinance services with social empowerment interventions has been effective, and that measures to reduce the financial stress associated with taking on debt could also help.
This Focus Note outlines the characteristics of informal online commerce (IOC), maps the personas of the women who engage in it, and provides guidance to funders looking to support women to generate livelihoods through IOC.
This paper brings together the evidence of what is known on norms and financial inclusion and uses cases to demonstrate aspects of and approaches to addressing discriminatory norms throughout the financial system.
News & Events
The latest news and upcoming events and training from the global financial inclusion community on this topic.