Letter from Inez: March 2016

Wednesday 30th March 2016

Inez MurrayThis month we are proud to share our Case Study (in partnership with Data2X, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) on women and men’s access to financial services in Chile. Since 2002, the Chilean government has captured and aggregated consumer financial data. The Case Study, available in English and in Spanish, tantalizingly illustrates the potential that supply-side information offers when it is sex disaggregated, and the impact it can have on policy design and in encouraging banks to enter the market.

The role of the Chilean regulator was paramount in driving the data production and analysis, and next month GBA will seek to involve regulators from other countries in the charge, taking the case for sex-disaggregated data to the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s (AFI) second dedicated set of hearings on more effectively integrating gender into national financial inclusion strategies: “Bridging the Gap: Commitments and Actions for Women’s Financial Inclusion.” Together we hope to shape specific actions for incorporation into AFI’s annual statement, the Maya Declaration, which is produced each September and represents commitments from the central banks of 60-plus countries.

The banks in our network continue to produce sex-disaggregated data to measure their Women’s Market and Diversity & Inclusion strategies. Our commitment to measurement and accountability is made manifest by the fact that eight GBA banks are now signatories to the UN Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs). Earlier this month I had the pleasure of being joined in New York by prominent GBA members — Westpac, BLC Bank and Garanti Bank — at the WEPs annual meeting, during which they shared the importance of having signed on to the seven principles of the WEPs. The principles map to three areas: the workplace, the marketplace and the community. It was notable in this year’s WEPs annual performance report from the WEPs that while 88 percent of those reporting did so on workplace principles, just 28 percent reported on marketplace principles. These include gender sensitive product and service development, support for women business owners, and supplier diversity.

It struck me that since Alliance members are centers of excellence on marketplace principles in particular, we should encourage more of our members to sign on to the WEPs. This would help build momentum for more financial services companies to get involved, and would also add significant value to other industries that could learn from our best practices on how to support women consumers effectively. Within the Alliance, we hope to have a formal signing ceremony, with several additional members signing on to the WEPs at our Annual Summit this October in Nairobi.

While in New York I also had the privilege of speaking at a special hearing hosted by UN Women that affirmed key tenets of the Addis Ababa Action Plan on Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. The goal of the session was to build support from governments that have not yet signed on to this salient and much needed set of actions designed to close the gender gap in many areas inside and outside finance.

We would have no mandate were it not for the amazing work of our members on the ground. This month, in Alliance member news, I thought it important to showcase the launch of the first of 13 business accelerator hubs by the Royal Bank of Scotland in the U.K. Their target that 50 percent of the businesses accessing the hubs are women-owned is impressive, given that men start businesses at twice the rate of women in the U.K. Also this month, a big shout out to HBL in Pakistan on the formal launch of their Women’s Market program, Nisa. Both banks are further examples of accountability at work.




Inez Murray, Chief Executive Officer
Global Banking Alliance for Women