Women’s financial inclusion

Women’s financial inclusion

March 25, 2020    

While half of the world’s population is female, very little is known about their financial inclusion

The availability of data on financial inclusion has grown tremendously in recent years. Data initiatives have played a critical role in deepening our understanding of financial inclusion – particularly initiatives such as the World Bank’s Findex, FinMark Trust’s Finscope, IMF’s Financial Access Surveys, AFI’s Core Set, GPFI’s Basic Set, MIX Market’s Finclusion Lab, as well as countless studies driven at a national level. Much progress has been made towards measuring the success of financial inclusion. At the same time, increasing volumes of client data are becoming available for use by financial service providers. This includes digital platforms and financial services internal client data such as transactional data, as well as new sources of alternative data emerging from fields that were previously thought of as unrelated to financial services. These alternative data sources (e.g. number of Facebook likes, overnight airtime balance, and what material your home is made of) can be leveraged to gather important information to benefit financial services providers and the financial needs of underserved segments.

Women, in particular, are a market segment that stands to benefit greatly from increased value through financial services. Access to financial services has been shown to increase women’s individual economic empowerment, it increases spending on education and healthcare within families, and there are macro-economic benefits to 50% of the population increasing their economic production. However, while financial inclusion overall has been increasing, gender gaps on various metrics have, in fact, been increasing – in terms of access and usage of financial services, but also with regard to access to digital technologies such as mobile phones or the internet, which are often prerequisites for engaging with value-adding financial services.

Progress in better serving the female target market has been hampered by the lack of sex-disaggregated data gathering and reporting on various aspects of financial inclusion. This is compounded by the fact that in the instances when information is reported in a sex-disaggregated manner, women are often pooled together into one homogenous group – thus obscuring the large variety of sub-segments that have different and unique realities and needs.

These two tendencies act to keep most women’s financial lives invisible

Cenfri is committed to applying a gendered lens to our work as we continue to unlock opportunities for people to live their financial lives optimally and to improve individual welfare in an increasingly digital world.

We aim to assist policymakers, regulators, product designers and researchers in increasing their understanding of women’s financial lives, ensuring they have access to appropriate financial tools that provide them with value.

Explore some of our case studies on:

Contact us if you’re interested in partnering with us on related topics or would like to explore how to apply a gendered lens to your own work.


insight2impact (i2ifacility) was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. The programme was established and driven by Cenfri and Finmark Trust.

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