Connecting Financial Inclusion and ICTs to Women’s Empowerment
CPR South 2018, Policy Brief
4 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 30, 2018
Global financial inclusion has increased but the gender gap has remained intractable at around seven per cent between 2011 and 2017. This gender gap is also evident in the use of digital channels despite the transformational effect of mobile money and banking on financial inclusion.
A policy emphasis on financial inclusion has meant that the unbanked are seen as a market. Much of the debate and literature focuses on how banking access can be assured in a sustainable way for providers and users. This needs to be complemented by a focus on the empowerment of women and men, giving them the freedom to choose the life they want. The design of financial products and services needs to take account of the ‘gender of money’. that is, the way women and men use, manage and control, inherit and own money in different ways across cultures. The one universal trait is that women use more of their money, compared to men, for the welfare of their children and household. So financial inclusion has to work with the social and cultural nature of money and the communication and social worlds of men and women.
A focus on empowerment will help dilute the danger of financial inclusion becoming a synonym for a cashless society. The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has co-existed with traditional channels of communication and forms of money. Mobile money initially enabled more efficient access to and transmission of cash. ICTs have also over time increased digital financial transactions.
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