Tackling the Root Causes of Women’s Financial Exclusion

Thursday, April 21, 2022

April 21, 2022, 9 – 10 a.m. EST (3 – 4 p.m. CET) 

Restrictive gender norms are often the root cause of persistent gender inequality in the financial market system and ignoring them can limit the effectiveness and impact of financial inclusion interventions. For example, collective expectations around childcare and household responsibility mean women spend significant amounts of time on unpaid care and domestic work (e.g., cooking, cleaning, caring for children and elders), limiting their time for other “productive” activities such as operating and expanding a business. If they do find time to operate a business, financial service providers (FSPs) may not consider women bankable based on assumptions about the size and profitability of their businesses or personal perceptions that “women are risk averse.” These assumptions result from comparing women directly to men, as opposed to considering how gender norms that prioritize women as caregivers and men as owners of land and other assets restrict women economically. Similarly, other areas in financial market systems (I.e., banking regulations and policies payment platforms, agent networks, other financial services and infrastructure) may appear to be gender-neutral but in reality are not, as they fail to consider that women may not have the same capacities and choices as men due to limited mobility or a disproportionate care burden.

Any efforts to create gender equitable financial market systems that can increase women’s financial inclusion (WFI) and facilitate women’s economic empowerment (WEE) need to start with an understanding of how gender norms shape the behavior of all system actors and then, based on this understanding, design interventions that seek behavior change at multiple levels – including at the community and household level, with FSPs, support service providers and policymakers.

In this webinar, hosted by CGAP and FinEquity as part of the World Bank Group’s Gender Equality and Development +10: Accelerate Equality initiative, funders and facilitators will share how they diagnose gender norms that impact women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment in specific country contexts, and how they use these insights to shape their strategies to create a more gender-equitable financial system.