Gender Inclusive

Gender Inclusive


Increasing women’s financial inclusion and narrowing the gender gap through gender responsive financial policy and regulation has been at the forefront of AFI’s policy discourse since the Denarau Action Plan (DAP) was adopted in 2016 at the annual Global Policy Forum in Fiji.  

Significant gains in financial inclusion have been made in recent years. The Global Findex revealed that the gender gap in access to financial services has narrowed for the first time, from 9% in 2011 to 6% in 2021, though it remains significantly wider in parts of South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, as well as a few sub-Saharan African economies, leaving 745 million women financially excluded. Still, much work needs to be done to address structural inequalities that deny women economic opportunities and to ensure economic benefits are shared equally. 

Greater financial inclusion of women also makes business sense with estimates suggesting that advancing women’s equality could add some USD12 trillion to global gross domestic product by 2025. Women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) already make significant contributions to the economies in which they operate. They account for a third of all SMEs, a segment that has long been recognized as an important engine of growth and job creation.

Alongside gender-sensitive policies, collecting and analyzing sex-disaggregated data is essential to address this gender gap as it can both inform evidence-based financial inclusion policymaking and track the effectiveness of efforts to address barriers faced by women.

The Gender Inclusive Finance workstream is partially financed by Sweden and other partners.

Denarau Action Plan (DAP)

Since the adoption of the DAP, in 2016, which was updated by members in 2022 to note the progress the network has made to date and to have and intentional focus on the sustainable usage of quality financial services by women, financial regulators and policy makers have continued to concentrate their efforts in developing and implementing policies and regulations that are gender sensitive. The goal of the original Denarau Action Plan was for AFI members to halve gender gaps in financial inclusion in their respective jurisdictions by the end of 2021, and many members have already achieved this, or have made significant reductions. It is positive to see that efforts by AFI members have contributed to the reduction in the overall global gender gap in women’s access to formal financial products and services by three percentage points, from nine percent since 2011 to six percent in 2021 across developing and emerging economies.

Strategic guidance and leadership to the AFI network in advancing and promoting gender inclusive finance are provided by the high-level AFI’s Gender Inclusive Finance Committee (GIFC), which was established at the 2017 AFI GPF in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Committee members are the Bank of Ghana (Chair), Bangladesh Bank (Vice-Chair), Bank Al-Maghrib, Palestine Monetary Authority, Banco Central del Paraguay, Bank of Uganda and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Since adopting the DAP in 2016, close to 60 knowledge products were developed and published covering various thematic topics to guide policy and regulatory efforts that drive gender inclusive finance. Under the Maya Declaration, more than 45 members have committed to at least one target related to gender inclusive finance. 52 policy changes in the area of gender inclusive finance have been reported by 29 member institutions. 

Leadership and Diversity Program for Regulators

As part of the program to create a pipeline for future women leaders, the bespoke LDR global capacity building program continues to be well-received and is highly successful within the AFI network., This 12-week program, delivered in collaboration with Women’s World Banking and  Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, brings together senior officials from central banks and other regulatory agencies and high-potential women from their respective institutions to develop policy initiatives that help close the gender gap in financial inclusion, promote greater institutional gender diversity in regulatory institutions

Applications for the next cohort of the Leadership and Diversity Program for Regulators will open in the spring of 2024.

Learn more here.

GIF Maya Declaration Commitments:

Over 45 Maya Declaration Commitments on gender inclusive finance have been made across all AFI regions with Sub-Saharan Africa contributing the most targets to date.

Gender Inclusive Finance Maya Declaration


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GIF Ambassadors

Launched at the 2019 AFI GPF, Gender Inclusive Finance Ambassadors provide recognition of AFI member institutions that are leading the network in efforts to advance women’s financial inclusion agendas and fulfil their commitments made under the DAP.

To become eligible as an ambassador, member institutions have to meet the majority of a pool of relevant GIF indicators such as recording a GIF policy change, the collection of sex-disaggregated data as well as commitment and leadership in promoting greater institutional diversity and women in leadership, among others. 

At the 2019 GPF, 11 member institutions were recognized as the inaugural AFI GIF Ambassadors and an additional 21 member institutions were recognized at the 2022 GPF, bringing the total number of GIF Ambassador institutions to 32.

Click here to learn more about AFI GIF Ambassadors.


The objectives of the Gender Inclusion Ambassadors:

Download GIF Factsheet

"Women in leadership would go a long way in promoting gender inclusive finance." Elsie Addo Awadzi, Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana

"Women in leadership would go a long way in promoting gender inclusive finance." Elsie Addo Awadzi, Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana

The 10-point action plan

With the Denarau Action Plan (DAP), AFI members are empowered to:

1. INCORPORATE gender considerations in the AFI Network’s core activities, including all capacity-building activities, working groups, and regional initiatives, to promote peer learning and develop knowledge products relating to gender inclusive finance and women’s financial inclusion, that support the development and implementation of financial inclusion policies.
2. CONSIDER AND IMPLEMENT best practices in integrating gender considerations to enhance women’s financial inclusion into National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS) or other national-level financial policies.
3. LEVERAGE digital financial services and other innovative technologies to sustain and accelerate progress in gender inclusive finance and women’s financial inclusion.
4. STRENGTHENthe role of financial infrastructures, such as interoperable payment systems, credit bureaus, and electronic collateral registries, to enable women’s financial inclusion.
5. FACILITATE gender focal points from each of the AFI’s working groups to coordinate with the AFI’s Gender Inclusive Finance Unit and to lead on issues and knowledge products relating to gender inclusive finance, according to each of their mandates.
6. SUPPORT members to collect, analyze, and use sex-disaggregated data to promote greater women’s financial inclusion and to report data collection progress on the AFI Data Portal.
7. ENCOURAGE all AFI’s members to set specific financial inclusion objectives and targets for women’s financial inclusion, within both the framework of the Maya Declaration and their National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS), and to monitor and report their progress on a regular basis.
8. CALL ON members to advocate for financial institutions and other private sector actors to:
  • support an inclusive organizational culture to better understand the needs of women’s market segments
  • develop their institutional capacity to effectively serve the women’s market segments
  • recognize the value of collecting and analyzing sex-disaggregated data to develop products and services to meet women’s needs.
9. COLLABORATE with other key stakeholders, including government agencies, development partners, and civil society to:
  • identify through research the gender-specific barriers to financial inclusion and effective policy-driven solutions
  • advocate the value of women’s financial inclusion at the national level
  • encourage a coordinated, sector-wide approach to data collection and implementation of sound gender-sensitive/transformative policies for financial inclusion
  • create an enabling and supportive environment to accelerate women’s financial inclusion.
10. DRIVE greater gender diversity at every level within members’ own institutions through developing effective workplace policies, practices, inclusive activities, as well as diversity and inclusion initiatives.

AFI members made Maya Declaration commitments on gender and women’s financial inclusion

AFI Data Portal



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