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SINGAPORE—Global NGO Women’s World Banking today announced the launch of their Southeast Asia Advisory Council, a group of 13 high-profile leaders with the common goal of advancing women’s financial inclusion throughout the region. Her Excellency Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, will serve as Honorary Chair of the Council.
“According to the World Bank’s latest data, nearly a third of women in Southeast Asia lack access to a bank account. As some of the most prominent private and public sector leaders in Southeast Asia, this group is not willing to stand by while women are continually left out of the formal economy,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “We’re thrilled to convene this distinguished group to join our mission to deliver the most sustainable and innovative approaches to achieving women’s financial inclusion.”
The Advisory Council, made possible with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia (DFAT), represents the banking, technology, government and consumer goods industries. The group will develop a robust, actionable strategy for influencing key stakeholders throughout the region who are best positioned to advance women’s financial inclusion.
“We are united in the mission to bring women into the formal financial sector, recognizing that this is the key to economically empowering women,” said Honorary Chair Her Excellency Sri Mulyani Indrawati. “I have seen firsthand how access to finance can be a key driver for improving women’s lives—from growing their businesses to saving for their futures to strengthening their resilience. I look forward to working with my distinguished Council colleagues to advocate for these women.”
Joining Her Excellency Sri Mulyani Indrawati on the Advisory Council are:
“The caliber of the Council members is a testament to the importance we all place on correcting the persistent gender inequalities in the financial system”, said Amy Haddad, DFAT’s Principal Gender Specialist. “Australia is proud of our strong longstanding relationship with Women’s World Banking and excited that we are now working together in Australia’s neighborhood, Southeast Asia. The Council’s focus on breaking down barriers to women’s economic participation will help build a path for women’s financial inclusion and ultimately, their economic empowerment”.
The Council’s first gathering takes place in Singapore on May 21, 2018. The members will convene twice a year in Southeast Asia to drive the cross-sector solutions that will bring more women into Southeast Asia’s formal financial sector.
With support from DFAT and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Women’s World Banking is working throughout Southeast Asia to promote women’s financial inclusion. This approach includes a range of interventions, from developing digital insurance products in Cambodia to delivering a region-wide Women in Leadership Program to advance women executives in the financial services sector. Most recently the organization renewed an MOU with the Secretariat of the National Council for Financial Inclusion of Indonesia (Secretariat) to develop the country’s strategy to overcome longstanding financial inclusion barriers for women.
The Southeast Asia Advisory Council was based on the success of Women’s World Banking’s Africa Advisory Council, formed in 2014, which advocates for women’s financial inclusion across Sub Saharan Africa.
Women’s World Banking is the global leader in women’s financial inclusion. Rooted in our deep understanding of the women’s market, we tackle financial inclusion in three interconnected ways: first, by partnering with financial services providers to develop scalable market-driven solutions; second, through our gender-lens private equity fund; and, finally, because diverse institutions are proven to be stronger, we build institutional capacity through leadership and diversity programs. Through this holistic approach and our global reach of 49 institutions in 31 countries, we accelerate economic opportunity for low-income women and growth for financial service providers in the emerging markets.