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Alliance for Financial Inclusion Puts Women on the Agenda

Thursday 20th August 2015

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The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) held its first conference specifically focused on financial inclusion policy as it relates to women on July 22. The event, “Bridging the Gap: Financial Inclusion Policy Solutions for Women in Africa,” took place in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire, and convened a variety of actors, including financial regulators, policymakers, bankers and other private sector actors, and representatives from NGOs and international organizations. Panelists and attendees together explored the gaps in and barriers to financial inclusion for women across the world, and discussed possible solutions and policy implications.

“There have been increasing levels of financial inclusion globally, but a stagnation of the gender gap,” AFI Executive Director Alfred Hannig said.

AFI — in conjunction with GBA member Women’s World Banking — released the draft discussion paper “Policy Framework to Support Women’s Banking — Financial Inclusion” during the meeting. The paper highlights policy measures adopted by various regulators and policymakers, and the current thinking of various AFI members on the subject of women’s financial inclusion.

GBA Vice President of Programs Rebecca Ruf, Doreen Ratemo of GBA member Chase Bank Kenya and member New Face New Voices’ Marcelina Gaoses participated in the panel “Private Sector Initiatives to Reach Women at Scale,” sharing GBA research on the Women’s Market, as well as information on members’ holistic value propositions to women and experiences in serving women sustainably and profitably. The panelists also discussed the strong business case for targeting women as a market and the power of the female economy.

A common thread throughout the event was the importance of sex-disaggregated data, not only in understanding the main obstacles that women face when accessing financial services and developing financial inclusion strategies that are appropriate for women, but also in setting targets, making better policy decisions and monitoring those policies.

This focus on data will carry through to the next AFI conference, which is set to be held September 1 to 4 in Maputo, Mozambique. GBA Chief Executive Inez Murray will be moderating a panel on the importance of gender data at the 2015 Global Policy Forum, which will bring together central banks and other financial sector policymaking and regulatory institutions to share experiences in increasing access to financial services. As input into AFI’s gender strategy, Inez will also facilitate AFI’s Data Working Group on Day 1 of the conference.

These events pave the way for the Global Data Symposium, which will kick off the 2015 GBA Annual Summit on September 29. This first-of-its-kind event will convene a variety of stakeholders to discuss concrete actions to close the gender data gap for women’s financial services. Panels will explore the roles and actions different stakeholders can take in promoting both supply and demand side sex-disaggregated data collection. The event will also feature the launch of the Women’s Market Roadmap — a report developed in conjunction with the Inter-American Development Bank and Data 2X — and lessons learned from recent country-level case studies. For more information, take a look at the GBA Summit website.

Additional conference highlights from the AFI event in Côte D’Ivoire can be found here. For details on the upcoming AFI conference in Maputo, click here.