Driving global growth through women’s financial inclusion

September 12, 2016

3The G20 has in recent years agreed on the clear need to enable more women to participate in the global economy, beginning with the 2014 G20 Leader’s Communique that established the goal of “reducing the gap in participation rates between men and women in our countries by 25 percent by 2025” in order to “significantly increase global growth and reduce poverty and inequality.” Women’s financial inclusion is instrumental to achieving this goal. By enabling women to invest, borrow and insure their lives and their businesses, they will better participate in the formal economy and improve performance of women-owned businesses.

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Recent efforts by governments, regulators, the private sector and the global development community to improve financial inclusion are yielding impressive results. These gains have been supported in part by the rapid rise in digital connectivity in the developing world via mobile phones, the increasing use of electronic payments by large governments and procurement channels, and innovative digital financial products such as mobile money accounts popular in certain markets.

However, despite these gains, a significant gender gap exists in terms of the quality of access to a bank or mobile money account, and ownership of that account. This gap is due to a number of challenges that are particular to women, no matter what part of the world. These four themes summarize the myriad, interconnected challenges to financial inclusion of women:

  1. Women have fewer controlled assets
  2. Women are harder to reach
  3. Financial institutions are less understood by women
  4. Women are less understood by financial institutions

WomensFinancialInclusionGPFI CoverIn this paper, Women’s Financial Inclusion: A Driver for Global Growth[1], Women’s World Banking outlines specific recommendations for G20 countries, domestic governments, the private sector and the international development community to address these challenges. For example, as domestic governments are directly involved in providing a regulatory environment that enables the local financial ecosystem, we recommend that governments pass and implement laws that allow women full ownership and control of assets on par with men, including the right to inherit family assets. In addition, governments can incentivize or lead the development of digital and biometric identification processes to better allow women in remote locations and with poor literacy to access and trust formal financial services.

As the leading non-profit advancing women’s financial inclusion around the world, Women’s World Banking welcomes commitments from global bodies like the G20 as well as public and private sector players to advance women’s economic participation. However, these commitments are just the beginning. Taking meaningful actions, such as those recommended in this paper, will increase women’s financial inclusion to drive global economic growth.


[1] This paper is informed by two previous publications commissioned by the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion: The Opportunities of Digitizing Payments, August 2014, by the World Bank Development Research Group, the Better Than Cash Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Digital Financial Solutions to Advance Women’s Economic Participation, November 2015, by the World Bank Development Research Group, the Better Than Cash Alliance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Women’s World Banking.