More than one billion women continue to be excluded from formal financial services, according to the 2017 Global Findex, with the gender gap in access remaining stuck at nine percent in developing economies. In this context, women’s financial inclusion has emerged as a priority among financial inclusion policymakers, development actors, international organisations and financial service providers
Greater financial inclusion of women also makes business sense with estimates suggesting that advancing women’s equality could add some USD12 trillion to global gross domestic product by 2025. Women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) already make significant contributions to the economies in which they operate. They account for a third of all SMEs, a segment that has long been recognised as an important engine of growth and job creation.
Alongside gender-sensitive policies, collecting and analyzing sex-disaggregated data is essential to address this gender gap as it can both inform evidence-based financial inclusion policymaking and track the effectiveness of efforts to address barriers faced by women.
Denarau Action Plan
As part of efforts to boost women’s access to quality and affordable financial services globally and move towards bridging the financial inclusion gender gap, AFI members endorsed the Denarau Action Plan (DAP) at the 2016 AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF). The DAP aims to accelerate the progress of women’s financial inclusion by supporting members who are trying to halve the financial inclusion gender gap across AFI member jurisdictions by the end of 2021.
Supporting these aims is AFI’s Gender Inclusive Finance Committee (GIFC), which was established at the 2017 AFI GPF in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. GIFC provides leadership on advancing and promoting women’s financial inclusion across the AFI Network. Committee members are: Bank of Zambia, Central Bank of Egypt, Central Bank of Lesotho, National Bank of Rwanda, National Bank of Cambodia and Banco Central de Reserva de El Salvador and Da Afghanistan Bank.
Since adopting the DAP, AFI’s working groups have completed more than 21 publications that guide policy and regulatory efforts that drive financial inclusion for women. Under the Maya Declaration, 40 AFI members have made at least one commitment related to gender and women’s financial inclusion. To date, 22 policy changes in the area of gender inclusive finance have been reported by 13 member institutions.
GIF Maya Declaration Commitments by AFI members:
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Gender Inclusive Finance
Gender Inclusion Ambassadors
Launched at the 2019 AFI GPF, Gender Inclusion Ambassadors provide recognition of AFI member institutions that are leading the network in efforts to close the financial inclusion gender gap and fulfil their commitments made under the DAP.
The objectives of the Gender Inclusion Ambassadors:
AFI’s Gender Inclusive Finance workstream is financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and other partners.