Ideas & Updates

Igniting women-led development with inclusive digital finance: G20 EMPOWER summit resounding appeal

© ©G20 EMPOWER Secretariat

Discover how the G20 EMPOWER in India summit paves the way, emphasizing the pivotal role of digital finance in advancing gender equality. As Brazil prepares to assume the G20 presidency, the spotlight on responsible digital finance and infrastructure becomes ever more pronounced.

The global march towards gender equality has seen significant milestones, yet the journey remains arduous. As the countdown to India’s G20 presidency summit nears its zenith, a resonant appeal for enhancing inclusive development through financial inclusion has emerged, with the G20 EMPOWER summit amplifying this appeal.

G20’s unwavering commitment to gender equality

The G20 has been a stalwart champion of gender-focused growth. From the 2014 Brisbane summit’s commitment to reducing the gender gap in labor force participation by 25% by 2025, to the 2019 Japanese presidency’s launch of G20 EMPOWER, the emphasis on promoting women’s economic representation in the private sector, has been unwavering. The 2020 Saudi Arabia presidency further underscored this commitment with the launch of Advancing Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion report, and the G20 High-Level Policy Guidelines for Digital Financial Inclusion targeting youth, women, and SMEs. These guidelines called for advancing women’s digital financial inclusion to drive growth.

However, challenges persist. Legal barriers in 178 countries hinder women’s full economic participation. In many countries, women’s rights are still not protected under law. Too many women lack access to formal identification, and so are unable to open a bank account, own property or develop a credit history, which are essential to save, build assets, secure a loan, open, or expand a business. The Reaching Financial Equality for Women report, authored by the Better Than Cash Alliance and its partners, underscores this urgency and proposes ten concrete actions that governments and businesses can take to end financial inequality for women.

G20 EMPOWER: A beacon for women’s financial inclusion

Under India’s G20 presidency, the intertwining of women’s economic participation with digital strength has been evident. G20 EMPOWER, through the Financial Inclusion and Business Acceleration (FIBA) Working Group, has crafted strategies to bolster women’s financial inclusion and entrepreneurship. The unveiling of Techequity, a Digital Inclusion platform, under India’s leadership is a testament to this commitment.

The results are tangible. G20 EMPOWER’s target of 30% women representation by 2030 is a step towards balanced workforces. The Best Practices Playbook, endorsed by member nations, fosters cross-sector learning. Monitoring leadership via the G20 EMPOWER KPI Dashboard ensures advancements in workforce participation, equity, diversity, and technical roles.

G20 EMPOWER summit: A confluence of voices for inclusive growth

The recent G20 EMPOWER summit in Gujarat was a testament to this commitment. Over 300 participants, including international delegates, convened to champion women’s leadership for equitable growth. The Better Than Cash Alliance, in collaboration with the G20 EMPOWER Secretariat, ignited a pivotal dialogue on leveraging digital infrastructure for women’s financial equality. This collaboration united key Indian ministries to harness their collective expertise for impactful change.

92% of informal merchants in India are women-owned firms

In his keynote, Shri Chanchal Sarkar, Economic Advisor, Indian Ministry of Finance and GPFI Working Group Chair, emphasized affordable digital services for inclusivity. This is vital in India, with 40 million mostly informal merchants and 92% informal, women-owned firms (7-8 million) operating without digitization. In Brazil and South Africa, around 17% of adults had not made digital payments, per Global Findex 2021.

H.E. Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, highlighted enhancing employability and bridging the gender digital gap while addressing digital violence.

Camilo Tellez, Deputy Managing Director of the Better Than Cash Alliance, emphasized the need for action by policymakers and the private sector. The discourse, rooted in the UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments, underscored the importance of prioritizing women, safeguarding client data, and designing user-centric solutions.

Ms. Maria Helena Guarezi, Executive Secretary, Ministry of Women and G20 Delegate, Brazil, embraced technology’s evolution and its resonance with pioneering equal pay legislation.

Brazil’s gender equality roadmap: A glimpse into the future

As Brazil prepares to assume the G20 presidency after India, its commitment to gender equality is evident. With pioneering equal pay legislation and legal frameworks supporting gender equality, Brazil’s dedication is commendable. The narrative now shifts to digital financial inclusion, promising transformative growth.

Conclusion: A unified appeal for action

The G20 EMPOWER’s clarion appeal, echoed by the Better Than Cash Alliance’s Reaching Financial Equality for Women initiative, is clear: advancing women’s digital financial inclusion is pivotal for achieving SDG 5. It is crucial for governments and the private sector to work together designing gender intentional policies and products that meet women’s needs.

For further insights, explore the Reaching Financial Equality for Women report here: