AFI and Women’s World Banking sign MoU to drive greater gender diversity

July 12, 2018

Women’s World Banking and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in developing and delivering a Leadership and Diversity for Regulators Program.

According to President and CEO of Women’s World Banking, Mary Ellen Iskenderian, “Gender neutral policies can have unintended consequences. By building a strong, gender-diverse policy team and understanding women’s unique barriers and needs, we can make tremendous strides in addressing the gender gap in financial inclusion. Women’s World Banking is pleased to deliver the Leadership & Diversity for Regulator program with AFI to help policymakers build the pipeline of women leaders within their organizations and inclusive regulation to accelerate economic security and prosperity”.

AFI Executive Director Dr Alfred Hannig explained that “the greater representation of women at central banks and financial regulatory institutions, encourages gender-sensitive policy making, which is a key towards advancing AFI’s commitment on closing the gender gap and women’s financial inclusion.”

“Within AFI member institutions, efforts to drive gender diversity must start from their leadership level to ensure the traction needed to take forward the agenda on women’s financial inclusion. The Leadership & Diversity for Regulator program is designed to support these efforts”, AFI Executive Director Dr. Hannig underlined, while referring to the fact that based on AFI records, currently only 10 percent of AFI member institutions are led by female heads (10 out of 104 institutions).

Under the MoU, AFI and Women’s World Banking will collaborate in developing, and delivering two one-year Leadership and Diversity for Regulator programs in 2019, and 2020. The programs are targeted at Deputy Governors and high potential women leaders of AFI member institutions. The objective of the programs is to equip participants with leadership tools and skills to advance financial inclusion policy initiatives for women as well as build more gender-diverse teams and leaders within the institution. Women’s World Banking has been delivering global, regional and institutional gender diversity programs for more than a decade.

Women are at the heart of AFI. At the 2016 Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Fiji, AFI’s global membership endorsed the Denarau Action Plan (DAP) to advance women’s financial inclusion and gender diversity. Since then, 28 AFI members have made at least one Maya Declaration commitment related to gender and women’s financial inclusion, and the network as a whole has adopted a target to halve the gender gap in each member country by 2021.

The strategic implementation of the DAP is overseen by Gender & Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee (GWFIC) that is chaired by Deputy Governor Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula of Bank of Zambia, and its membership comprise high-level representatives from seven AFI member institutions from Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The DAP has 10 Action Points and through Action Point #10, AFI members aim to drive greater gender diversity within their institutions, and their initiatives and strategies. As highlighted in the Special Report on Gender Diversity within AFI Member Institutions, institutional gender diversity does not only provide assurance that women have access to equal opportunities as men, but it is also necessary for vigorous and innovative policymaking that is sensitive to gender imbalances. Yet, worldwide, the representation of women at the leadership level in central banks remains limited. The results of the 2018 Global Balance Index research undertaken by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) show that the absolute number of central banks headed by women has fallen to 11, out of the 173 institutions included in the survey − a share of just 6 percent.

During 2018, AFI is also co-chairing Women 20 (W20) Financial Inclusion Group under the Argentinian presidency of the G20, alongside the Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA). As a co-chair, AFI supports the content development to inform W20’s policy recommendations as well as advocacy, and outreach on gender and women’s financial inclusion. W20 is an important platform for AFI to deliver on Denarau Action Plan.

About the 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 53 partners in 32 countries serving more than 30 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.


About Alliance for Financial Inclusion

AFI is the world leader on financial inclusion policy and regulation. AFI is a a member-owned network of over 100 financial inclusion policy-making and regulatory institutions from 90 developing and emerging countries around the world, covering up to 85% of the world’s unbanked. AFI promotes and develops evidence-based policy solutions that help improve the lives of an estimated 1,7 billion unbanked, out of which 1 billion are women, who do not have access to formal financial services.