Policy Brief: The Case for Gender-Intentional Consumer Protection

April 26, 2024

Financial products and services are crucial for empowering women financially, yet rapid innovation and digitalization pose risks, especially for those with low digital financial capability. Women often receive lower quality services or none at all due to societal norms. Vulnerable populations, particularly low-income women and rural communities, face amplified risks in digital markets. Recognizing these challenges, policymakers must address various risks in financial markets, sales processes, and product usage to ensure consumer protection.

General market risks include fraudulent services and vague terms, requiring regulations to protect consumers. Aggressive marketing tactics can lead vulnerable groups to unsuitable products, necessitating clear and accessible information delivery. Financial Services Providers (FSPs) may engage in misleading practices, emphasizing the need for simple terms, effective complaint mechanisms, and non-discrimination laws. Policy recommendations include enforcing clear marketing, transparent pricing, and robust data protection.

Fraud and online scams disproportionately affect women, underscoring the importance of tailored interventions. A case study from Cambodia highlights successful strategies, such as women-centered design and financial capability training, to increase product understanding and usage among women factory workers.

Women have specific financial preferences, including privacy, security, and control, which must be addressed in product design and regulation. Policymakers play a crucial role in strengthening consumer protection laws, promoting gender-sensitive product design, and monitoring discriminatory practices through gender-disaggregated data analysis.

Furthermore, policymakers should integrate consumer protection into digital public infrastructure projects to ensure inclusivity and security. By addressing these issues, regulators can create a more equitable and inclusive financial system, empowering women and vulnerable groups economically and socially.