Women’s World Banking participated in the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s (AFI) meeting “Bridging the Gap: Financial Inclusion Policy Solutions for Women in Africa,” where we released a draft of the co-authored discussion paper, “Policy Framework to Support Women’s Banking – Financial Inclusion” which examined policy solutions from across the AFI Network and how their specific attention to women had impacted the success of these policies.

On 22 July, policymakers and international leaders from across the globe met in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire to discuss the connections between financial inclusion policy and women in Africa.

The meeting, held under the theme of “Bridging the Gap: Financial Inclusion Policy Solutions for Women in Africa” was organized by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) with funding support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Participants in the conference included AFI member institutions and private sector representatives, as well as leaders from international organizations, representing a wide range of views and expertise.

During the opening panel, “What’s at Stake, What are the Barriers and What is to be Done”, moderated by Mr. Hannig, panelists discussed the challenges and the efforts currently being undertaken to ensure financial inclusion policy is responsive to the specific needs of women. Panelists included Diane Jocelyn Bizimana, Banque de la Republique du Burundi, Governor Ernesto Gove, Banco de Mozambique, Mr. Axel de Ville, UN Women and Celina Kawas, Woman’s World Banking. Mr. Hannig, set the stage for the discussion noting that there had been significant inroads made on finance inclusion access, but that these gains had not managed to close the gap women face. The discussion highlighted the importance of physical distance, particularly in rural settings where there is a lack of access point throughout large areas. The need to develop mechanisms for including the views and opinions of women was noted as an essential first step of any planning process as was the value that gender disaggregated data could bring to the field. The panelists also discussed the need for visible leadership from regulators and the importance of being strong advocates for women and financial inclusion. The value of women in financial inclusion was stressed throughout the session, as summarized clearly by Ms. Kawas, “Not properly taking into account 50 percent of the population cannot help but have a negative impact on the local and global economy.”

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