W20 Workshop Identifies Key Women’s Financial Inclusion Policy Priorities

Wednesday 2nd May 2018

W20 Financial Inclusion Focus Group Dialogue 2018As Co-Chairs of the W20 Financial Inclusion sub-group under the 2018 Argentinian presidency of the G20, the Global Banking Alliance for Women and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion on April 19 held a policy expert focus group during the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The W20 is the official G20 engagement group dedicated to promoting gender inclusiveness and gender equality as an integral part of the G20 process. The Financial Inclusion sub-group is developing a prioritized set of policy recommendations aimed at increasing women’s financial inclusion in two segments — the unbanked and women-owned/led MSMEs — to present to the W20 delegates for consideration. This workshop was a step in that process, convening 40 leading analysts working on financial inclusion to discuss and agree upon the most critical interventions necessary to move the needle for women.

The workshop began with an address from W20 Chair Susana Balbo, who stressed financial inclusion as a key priority for the W20 in 2018. A presentation on the findings of the just-released 2018 Global Findex data followed, wherein Dorothe Singer of the World Bank shared that despite an increase in overall financial inclusion since 2014, the gender gap remains stuck at 7 percent globally and 9 percent in emerging markets — where it has been since 2011. Her analysis showed that digital financial services are the driver behind increasing financial inclusion, and that digitizing payments such as government cash transfers and wages could bring millions more women into the financial system. She also shared that mobile phones are and will be key to advancing women’s financial inclusion, and that women continue to lag behind men significantly when it comes to business and housing finance.

With that established, a panel of experts took the stage. Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Zambia and Chair of AFI’s Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee, outlined AFI’s priority action areas: sex-disaggregated data to support effective policy design, reforms to enable women’s access to agents and mobile banking, flexible KYC requirements, financial sector infrastructure to enable establishment of credit histories and bypass property as collateral, and financial and business capability building. Tazeen Hasan, Senior Private Sector Development Specialist from Women, Business & the Law, outlined their take on what needs to be done, captured in the must-read Women, Business and the Law 2018, stressing the importance property rights as a strong driver of full financial inclusion. Inez Murray, CEO of the GBA, then shared the key data that would enable policymakers to create stronger policy and encourage private sector involvement. This is the outcome of the Women’s Financial Inclusion Data partnership’s Gender Data Strategy.

She was followed by Mary Hallward-Driemeier, Senior Economic Adviser at the Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation unit of the World Bank. She offered insights on what women SME owners need, including a focus on access to markets and marketing capability rather than the traditional focus on cost reduction. She also brought up the issue of harassment (social/cultural control) as a key issue to be addressed. Carolina Trivelli, Senior Economist at the Peruvian Studies Institute and G20 Interlocutor for the Inter-American Development Bank, wrapped up the panel, validating much of the aforementioned but also highlighting the desperate need for greater gender diversity and inclusion in the leadership of financial services providers and central banks.

With this context in mind, delegates then broke into groups to identify what they considered to be the top three interventions that would have the highest impact on women’s financial inclusion in each segment. Each individual then voted on the measures they thought would be most impactful. The average ranking from the group was as follows:

Both segments:

  • Encouraging the collection and use of more and better supply- and demand-side sex-disaggregated data
  • Investing in financial and business capability building


  • Establishing biometric IDs for multiple purposes/agencies at the national level to enable access
  • Ensuring that government payments (G2P, P2G, G2B, B2G, etc.) are digital in order to move as many women as possible into the system

Women SME Owners:

  • Encouraging governments to set procurement targets for women-owned businesses as suppliers and providing non-financial services to build capacity for these businesses
  • Finding workarounds for collateral requirements, including legal reform (establishing property rights, more equitable marital property regimes, etc.), establishing collateral registries (to enable use of moveable assets), and use of credit bureaus and alternative data (enabling women to establish credit histories)

A summary report of the discussions is forthcoming from GBA. This will be integrated into the presentation from the co-chairs at the W20 Financial Inclusion Roundtable taking place in Saudi Arabia in July, with the final wording being presented at the  W20 Summit Oct. 1-2 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To learn more about the W20, click here.