Reaching Financial Equality for Women (2023 edition)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest reverse in poverty since the Second World War. The UN estimates that at least 388 million women and girls were living in extreme poverty in 2022. Climate shocks are increasing in frequency, with disproportionate impacts on women.

Responsible digital finance offers an important avenue to eradicate financial inequality. Unified and urgent action is needed from the public and private sectors alike:

Governments can prioritize gender-intentional financial sector policymaking, including by digitizing payments of government social benefits directly into the accounts of women. It is also necessary to invest in digital public infrastructure to support women’s digital financial inclusion. This includes regulation supporting Digital Financial Services, and promoting digital identification and interoperable payment infrastructure. Reliable and affordable access to data and connectivity will help end gaps in smartphone ownership which prevent women from accessing financial services and digital economic opportunities.

Financial-sector regulators can prioritize the collection and usage of gender-disaggregated data to inform gender-intentional policymaking by financial service providers. They can also issue regulatory guidance to encourage financial service providers to design and scale appropriate and affordable financial products for women. Creating and enforcing strong consumer protection regimes, including universal dispute mechanisms, will also contribute to greater financial equality.

Companies can lead by digitizing salaries and private sector payments, which is proven to make concrete progress in getting women financially included. Financial service providers must invest in gender-transformative business models, both by hiring female staff and bank agents, and by designing responsible financial products for women and women-owned businesses.

Donors and technical partners have a responsibility to build gender-intentionality into program design, as well as develop innovative financial mechanisms, which works to de-risk capital and get financial products into the hands of women and women-led businesses.

Civil society organizations play an important role in raising awareness of the barriers to women’s digital financial inclusion and advocating for action. They can ensure the voices and experiences of diverse groups of women are represented and integrated in the design of policies, financial services, and initiatives.

Reaching Financial Equality for Women

Read the 2021 edition here