This renewed, four-year partnership will enable Women’s World Banking to accelerate its support for low-income women throughout Southeast Asia, with a focus on COVID-19 recovery and resilience

New York, October 22, 2020 – Women’s World Banking announces that Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has renewed its support of the organization’s longstanding efforts in financial inclusion and economic empowerment of low-income women in Southeast Asia. The announcement comes as DFAT and Women’s World Banking host a roundtable event Building Financial Resilience for Women in Southeast Asia during COVID-19 on October 22nd in conjunction with the first-ever virtual Making Finance Work for Women Summit held from October 20th to 21st. The renewed partnership will help further Women’s World Banking’s work in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam over a four-year period.

As the world reels from the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic fallout, the International Monetary Fund’s data show the economies in Asia and the Pacific shrinking by 2.3% in 2020. While the number of people living in poverty in developing Asia would have declined to 114 million by the end of 2020, Covid-19 reversed this trend. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates the number of poor people is likely to rise to 192 million by the end of 2020. The Center for Strategic and International Studies notes that women in the region are experiencing the pandemic’s effects more strongly than men. Southeast Asian women are far more likely to be employed informally within the sectors that have been most hit by the pandemic such as tourism, food, accommodations, essential domestic work, and manufacturing. Their informal employment often leads women workers to be excluded from formal relief and aid channels. Globally, data from The World Bank shows that the pandemic could push 47 million more women and girls below the poverty line, reversing decades of progress to eradicate extreme poverty.

This DFAT grant will enable Women’s World Banking to focus on three broad strategies for supporting low-income women throughout the immediate recovery period, and help them build longer term resilience. These areas include supporting financial service providers (FSPs) to design financial solutions for at least 1 million low-income women, influencing governments and engaging with policy makers to overcome barriers to women’s financial inclusion, and more deeply researching the impact of financial inclusion on women’s economic empowerment.

Commenting on the announcement, Women’s World Banking’s President and CEO, Mary Ellen Iskenderian, said, “Since 2016, DFAT’s support has been instrumental to our work in Southeast Asia – indeed it is the reason that we are able to operate there. Over the last four years, we have seen significant progress on financial inclusion in the region with new regulations and strategies to promote women’s financial inclusion in countries like Indonesia, and an increased number of bank and e-money accounts. We had participants from the Central Bank of Cambodia join our Leadership & Diversity for Regulators (LDR) program, while in Vietnam, in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), we assessed the awareness, use, and acceptance of digital wage payments among enterprises and workers. All our work to date is at risk if we do not accelerate our support of governments in the region who are dedicated to closing the gender gap. We are grateful to our partners at DFAT for this support, which is not only an endorsement of our work so far, but more importantly a challenge to us to double our efforts to help low-income women across the region build resilience, and participate fully in economic recovery and growth.”

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About Women’s World Banking

Women’s World Banking designs and invests in the financial solutions, institutions, and policy environments in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities. With a global reach of 51 partners in 28 countries serving more than 67 million women clients, Women’s World Banking drives impact through its scalable, market-driven solutions; gender-lens private equity fund; and leadership and diversity programs. To learn more about Women’s World Banking, visit womensworldbanking.org.

Media Contacts

Kate Stence ks@womensworldbanking.org

Andy Woolnough aw@womensworldbanking.org