The note focuses on the role played by remittances in achieving broader development objectives with a specific focus on women economic empowerment. It draws on the gender disaggregated data provided by MAP country diagnostics in Myanmar and Thailand, as well as Findex to identify the potential role of remittances for two unique segments of the population: women migrants sending money home and women who have taken over the household decision making back home and receive income through remittances. Further it highlights the fact that women migrants often face gender-specific challenges and barriers beyond those faced by male migrants.
This note provides concrete recommendations to ASEAN policymakers on how to tackle the separate challenges faced by these two unique segments of the adult population. It begins with an explanation of how remittances and, more broadly, financial inclusion through the use of formal and regulated remittance channels as well as financial products and services can improve the status of women migrants and women remittance receivers back home.
It details the profile, needs and ways these two groups currently use financial services, and the barriers they face to using formal financial services. The note also underscores not only the importance of bringing down these barriers but shows how remittances can be used as a platform to provide a broader portfolio of financial services, including savings accounts and investments into capital assets such as land. These services have traditionally excluded women in the ASEAN region but evidence shows that including them can greatly influence the intergenerational wealth of their families.
The note identifies the opportunities and requisite development initiatives for financial inclusion to support women migrants and women who have taken over the household decision making back home. This includes facilitating documentation for migrants, targeted education programmes and improving labour conditions for migrants. For women at home this includes offering financial support for female – headed households.
The SHIFT programme is a partnership between the UNCDF and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which aims to collaborate with key stakeholders in the ASEAN region to promote and expand financial inclusion.