Women’s World Banking and the UN Capital Development Fund announced the Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion (WDFI) Advocacy Hub. Global Hub is a new global coalition to catalyze collective action to increase women’s digital financial inclusion. The coalition aims to close the gender gap in access to digital technology, skills and digital financial products for women entrepreneurs – particularly in developing countries.
“750 million women are excluded from the formal financial system,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “Imagine the possibilities if those women had equal access to technology, skills and financial services. The WDFI Advocacy Global Hub is a groundbreaking global collaboration that will make those possibilities a reality and close the financial inclusion gap.”
The launch comes shortly after the release of the 2021 World Bank Global Findex, which shows the gender gap beginning to narrow, though the time it will take to close has only decreased by four years. And even though COVID-driven digital usage, especially payments, may have accelerated inclusion in the short term, unequal access to technology – specifically smartphone and mobile internet – imperils this progress and could drive further exclusion.
“The gap may have narrowed, but not fast enough. In some countries it will take over 100 years to reach full inclusion without intervention,” said Iskenderian. “The WDFI Advocacy Global Hub will accelerate that progress through coordinated advocacy. They strive to help women grow their businesses and secure their financial future.”
Importance of MSMEs
There are more than 6 million women-owned Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries. Nearly 20 percent of working-age women own a business there. These businesses create additional income for their families and provide women with autonomy and agency. Many MSMEs operate outside the formal economy and lack access to financial products and services that enable businesses to thrive. Despite these challenges, women-owned MSMEs are a significant driver of emerging economies. Their businesses need equal access to the same technology, skills, financial products and services as men. To be fair, they need to be in line with the UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments.
“As the world attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating consequences, it’s fundamental that women’s digital financial inclusion is a priority among national, regional and global decision-makers,” said Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Capital Development Fund. “Too many women are left behind in this transition to the digital economy. We see many opportunities to accelerate change to ensure women are not left behind.”
The WDFI Advocacy Hub has two interconnected components: Local coalitions in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The organization consists of civil society, public and private sector organizations. These organizations will advocate for priority women’s digital financial inclusion issues in their markets. There’s also the Global Hub which will drive coordinated, worldwide advocacy. The WDFI Advocacy Hub’s first priority is building a diverse global coalition. They will also be adding new partners to the hub over the coming weeks.
“By championing women’s digital financial inclusion on the ground in developing countries, we can see proof of concept. The opportunities and economic benefits digital financial inclusion can create for communities and for women’s overall economic mobility,” said Sinha.
The use of digital financial products and services was accelerated during the pandemic. Although women’s use of mobile phones and apps increased, their use has not remained consistent, and women are now 16 percent less likely than men to use the mobile internet, which equates to 264 million fewer women than men using mobile internet according to GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report.
“Women entrepreneurs urgently need equal access to digital technology and digital financial services. They also need the confidence and skills training to use them both to their fullest potential,” said Iskenderian. “The WDFI Advocacy Hub can bring together research, knowledge and actors, into one place. Together, they can turbocharge the three critical elements: technology, finance and know-how.”
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the WDFI Advocacy Hub is a collective of diverse stakeholders. They include financial service providers, FinTechs, civil society and bi- and multi-lateral organizations. Led by Women’s World Banking and the UN Capital Development Fund, initial partners include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), FinEquity convened by CGAP, GSMA, International Finance Corporation, The World Bank Gender Group, Better Than Cash Alliance, and Kaleidofin.
For more information on how to become a partner of the WDFI Advocacy Hub, visit www.itshereconomytoo.org or search #ItsHerEconomyToo on Twitter.
About Women’s World Banking
Women’s World Banking designs and invests in financial solutions, institutions, and policy environments in emerging markets. This is to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families and their communities. With a global reach of 62 partners in 35 countries serving more than 138 million women clients, Women’s World Banking drives impact through scalable, market-driven solutions; gender lens private equity fund; and leadership and diversity programs. To learn more visit womensworldbanking.org.
The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs). The UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models. These models unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, in support of households, localities and small enterprises that are underserved, where development needs are greatest and where resources are scarcest.
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