In conjunction with International Women’s Day 2021, AFI reached out to women leaders in its network to share their insight on women’s empowerment and the important role women play in financial inclusion. This interview features Governor Maiava Atalina Emma Ainuu-Enari, Central Bank of Samoa.
AFI: Why is financial inclusion, and specifically women’s financial inclusion, important to you?
Ainuu-Enari: Women are the ideal agents for the financial inclusion policy agenda. When women are financially included, they realize the objectives and intended benefits on their households. Women, especially mothers, will ensure that the needs of her family – e.g., education, health and daily living – are put above her own, or any other priorities, and will manage the household finances to ensure this.
AFI: What are unique qualities that women leaders can bring to an organization?
Ainuu-Enari: Women may not always realize how poised for success they are in leadership roles.
With more of a transformational style of leadership, women help team members develop their own skills and strengths. As mothers, women often handle crisis situations at home with compassion and patience, which are relevant attributes for crisis management in organizations.
Balancing careers, households and even aging parents, women can pivot, adjust and shift to find positive solutions to life and work problems. Even so, the odds are often against women in becoming leaders and those who do had to work extra hard to get there.
AFI: What are the biggest opportunities you face in developing and implementing policy and regulation focused on women’s financial inclusion?
Ainuu-Enari: Reforming the national payment system and establishing a credit information bureau are two key foundational works that the Central Bank of Samoa is prioritizing to better support digital financial services and access to finance for all. This includes women’s financial inclusion, especially for women-led micro, small and medium enterprises. To complement its national financial inclusion agenda, Samoa’s government is also working to complete its national digital identification infrastructure.
AFI: As pioneers of inclusive FinTech, the Pacific islands were the first to develop and implement a regional sandbox. How are digital financial services expected to bridge the financial inclusion gender gap in Samoa and the region?
Ainuu-Enari: In Samoa and the Pacific, a lot of micro businesses and enterprises are women-led.
Digital financial services can provide a safe and secure way for women-led microenterprises to transact and do business. This allows them to work from the comfort and safety of their own homes rather than at markets or roadside stall, particularly if they are made more vulnerable by having to work late at night. Running a business from home also allows them to oversee any usual household responsibilities, saving time and money.
AFI: What is your message to women in your institution and in our network, across the world, on International Women’s Day, especially during the challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic?
Ainuu-Enari: Be encouraged! Women’s perspectives and contributions matter; families, communities, businessesand governments all benefit.
With our transformational style of leadership and as policymakers promoting the financial inclusion policy agenda, we are the change agents that can immensely help bring our families, communities and nations the benefits of financial inclusion. This role is ever more important now with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, so that our families, communities and governments can whether this storm.
AFI’s Gender Inclusive Finance workstream is financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and other partners.