Legal and Regulatory Barriers Inhibiting Women’s Full Financial Inclusion in MENA

“Getting to Equal”

Tazeen Hasan presented the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law research on barriers to women’s financial inclusion in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). She discussed the importance of access to identification cards and laws protecting women’s assets, the value of childcare services, and the various opportunities for improving women’s financial inclusion in the region.

Key Points

  1. Formal identification is key to economic participation globally. There are 11 economies around the world – including four in MENA – where women are required to complete at least one additional step to obtain an ID, compared to men.
  2. The World Bank has found that laws restricting women’s agency and mobility in any way can hinder their financial inclusion – gender gaps in account ownership are larger where women’s mobility is constrained.
  3. Seventy-five economies around the world limit women’s property rights in some way. This has a direct effect on financial access, including women’s ability to start a business.
  4. Where women are able to inherit property, they often feel pressure from family to waive their rights. In Jordan a woman cannot waive her property inheritance for three months. The same law was adopted in Pakistan.
  5. “Non-traditional” repayment history data can stand in for a credit history. 50 out of 189 economies surveyed do not have credit registries or credit bureaus, yet microfinance repayment, retail and utility data exists for many. In MENA, four economies’ credit bureaus request utility data, and seven request data from retailers.
  6. Non-discrimination laws in credit decisions are another key way to promote women’s financial inclusion.
  7. There are 15 economies in MENA where the government provides support for childcare, which has a positive impact on economies and creates jobs. The World Bank is looking to influence additional reform in this space.

2018 GBA Summit


Senior Private Sector Development Specialist, World Bank Group


If women’s participation were the same as men in the workplace, there would be US$28 trillion added to the global economy by 2025, and it would have no negative impact on men.
— Tazeen Hasan

No women, no growth.
— Tazeen Hasan