AFI has been at the forefront of reducing the gender gap in access to finance in parallel with its efforts to advance women’s financial inclusion. The 2021 Global Findex announcement of a three percent drop in the gender gap in developing countries has given all of us in the global financial inclusion community a reason to feel hopeful. Despite these advances, 742 million women are still excluded from the formal financial sector, with Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab region respectively reporting a twelve and thirteen percentage point gender gap in financial inclusion.
Covid-19 has proved once again how inclusive FinTech and digital financial services and products – powered by gender-responsive financial policy and regulation – can have a phenomenal impact on women’s lives by addressing the social and structural inequalities still hindering their access to economic opportunities and equally shared benefits. In our work with 85 member institutions, including central banks, ministries of finance, and other financial policymaking or regulatory institutions from over 75 developing countries and emerging markets, we have learned that those who were already on the digital path, were able to successfully weather the economic storm brought about by the pandemic, as well as the impact of climate change and armed conflict —all of which have hit women the hardest.
AFI members in all our regions have made over 40 Maya Declaration Commitments on gender inclusive finance, with Sub-Saharan Africa contributing the most targets to date. To bridge the existing financial inclusion and digital gender gap, AFI will continue to rely on the principles set out in the Denarau Action Plan on women’s financial inclusion and the Sochi Accord on Inclusive FinTech, both of which have been endorsed enthusiastically by our members.
On this day, let us reaffirm our commitment to providing an enabling environment for gender-sensitive and gender-responsive digital financial services and solutions to better serve the remaining millions of women who remain outside of our formal financial systems. Together we can create equitable and inclusive financial systems. Let’s keep moving forward! Happy 2023 International Women’s Day!
Dr. Alfred Hannig, Executive Director, AFI