Nairobi – The President of Women’s World Banking, Mary Ellen Iskenderian on Monday said that economic empowerment of low-income African women is being hindered by their lack of bank accounts.
Speaking during the Africa Advisory Council press briefing at a Nairobi hotel, Iskenderian noted that only 20 percent of women in Africa have bank accounts and this continues to hinder their progress.
She added that accounts can enable them to be more innovative and take a leading role in decision making processes in the society.
“Most African households’ breadwinners are men. Emergence of natural resources leads to conflicts and the most afflicted are the poor and women who lack knowledge in terms of innovative ideas and technical know-how,” she said.
The Co-chair of the Africa Advisory council, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the mission to bring financial tools and resources to the women in Africa are of utmost importance.
“Access to a bank account is a right that low-income women have gone without for too long, and institutions that do not embrace these clients will be left behind,” she said.
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She added that women are great savers but they don’t save with financial institutions.
“We want to approach them and encourage them to save to get an interest,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer at Kenya Women holding, Dr. Jennifer Riria said that access to finance can be a key driver to transforming the way the world works for women and their families.
“Women and youth issues need to be addressed so that they can be part of achieving the development. Women of Africa don’t need charity; what they need is access, control and respect in the financial sectors, a reason to open their accounts,” she said.
She added that gender issues are important in development and they must be brought on board for the country to realize development.
“Though the cultures and communities throughout Africa are diverse, women share geographical, emotional and financial barriers to economic empowerment,” she said.
Riria added that the council is poised to advocate for the women empowerment and build a path for financial inclusion.