Reflections on the Gender Performance e-Workshop

December 15, 2014

For a recording and complete wrap-up of the e-Workshop, visit the blog.

Being so actively involved in the development and implementation of the Gender Performance Initiative (GPI), I was thrilled to be a panelist for the e-Workshop on the topic hosted by The Microcredit Summit Campaign, alongside the MIX and Women’s World Banking network member Microfund for Women (Jordan). It is heartening to know that our colleagues in financial inclusion also recognize the importance of understanding not only how many women we serve, but how well and with what outcomes.

Entitled “Are you serving women well? Using the Gender Performance Indicators,” the workshop covered the development of the initiative, the importance of measuring service to women clients and staff, and how we identified the initial 29 indicators for measuring gender performance. Mike Krell from MIX shared how we collaborated to test a select group of indicators (The Select Five gender performance indicators) that can serve as a starting point for financial services providers. Given their expertise in reporting and analysis, and their role as the data hub of the microfinance industry, the MIX will play an enormous role in advancing use of the indicators. Shahinaz Saqer from Microfund for Women provided the financial institution perspective on the experience and utility of using the indicators and shared how they are using these insights to evaluate and improve their service to women.

Outcome measurement is clearly the most challenging area given variations in defining metrics and institutions’ varying capacities on technology, human resources etc. The current gender performance indicators do measure economic improvement, self-determination and family well-being, however as the industry starts to focus on outcomes measurement, and improve data collection and reporting in this area, I hope there will be the opportunity to identify innovative ways to assess outcomes for women. I appreciate the suggestions from the participants, and absolutely agree that longitudinal studies using this data will be invaluable in order to help us assess which definitions and methodologies are easiest to use and are most useful for the industry.

Overall, two themes seemed to emerged during the workshop – the importance of developing indicators for the range of products and services women need, and interest in enhancing metrics around outcomes for women clients.

The Select Five are only the first step. I would encourage everyone to check out the full suite of indicators in our manual Gender Performance Indicators: How well are we serving women? The manual presents indicators that enable financial institution to assess whether the products and services offered – beyond credit – are meeting women’s needs. In line with Women’s World Banking’s strategy of advancing financial inclusion that goes beyond offering low-income women access to credit, we are currently testing gender indicators for savings and look forward to reporting on this in 2015.

The polling conducted throughout the e-Workshop also yielded some really interesting feedback. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that are already tracking gender-disaggregated data (beyond % women borrowers) and 35% said they would like to start. Of the Select Five GPIs, 54% of respondents said tracking percent new women borrowers was the easiest to begin tacking; 20% said women borrower retention rate, and another 20% said average loan size. At the conclusion of the workshop, 17 participants indicated that their institutions were interested in using the GPI.

I am so excited to see that so many participants are interested in the gender performance indicators, and look forward to continuing this discussion as the GPI grows and evolves.