11 June 2024

Gender sensitive policies pave the way for Palestine’s financial inclusion journey

By Mohanad Salous, Chief of Financial Inclusion, Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA)

Palestine’s first National Financial Inclusion Strategy committed to financially including 50 percent of the country’s adult population by 2025. We exceeded that target ahead of time. But something was preventing the country from moving beyond its target: women’s exclusion from the financial system.

A 2021 national survey, funded by Sweden, found that the country’s gender finance gap is vast, with only 34.7 percent of women financially included compared to 73.6 percent on men. 

Women in Palestine face a dual vulnerability in accessing financial services. On the one hand, rigid cultural and social norms curb their economic independence and on the other, the country’s political instability robs them of their right to economic well-being.  Financial products and services don’t meet their unique needs and the lack of financial awareness makes them reluctant to approach service providers.

The Sweden-funded survey helped build an information framework to guide the country’s regulatory authorities in bridging the gender gap. It led to the development of two roadmaps aimed at financially including marginalized and unbanked women: a Gender Roadmap and Digital Financial Services Roadmap. The roadmaps consist of four strategies for promoting women’s financial inclusion through digital financial services:

  • Embracing sex-disaggregated data to create more informed policies that take into account women’s unique challenges to financial inclusion
  • Adapting regulation that support women’s access to finance, entrepreneurship, and consumer protection
  • Boosting service providers’ capabilities to cater for women beneficiaries and encouraging them to develop products and services that meet women’s needs
  • Raising women’s financial awareness and literacy through training programs and workshops

The roadmaps served to guide our second National Financial Inclusion Strategy. By this time next year, we’ll be able to measure the impact this has had on women’s lives.

They say every challenge holds the promise of solution… At first, the results of the financial inclusion gender gap came as a big blow. But it inspired us to create roadmaps that have the potential to improve women’s lives. Our hope is that the roadmaps will help address the country’s gender disparities once and for all, and serve as a foundation for future policies that financially empower the next generation of women and girls.

 


© Alliance for Financial Inclusion 2009-2024