47 YASMIN BIN-HUMAM / DEENA BURJORJEE Fixing Financial Inclusion’s Gender Gap: Fast- Growing ‘Community of Practice’ Seeks Solutions Life without formal financial services results in expensive, insecure and inefficient coping strategies, which often fail to meet the broad range of individual financial needs. Yet this is the reality faced by the majority of women in the developing world. In fact, 1 billion women living in the poorest 40 percent of developing-country households remain outside the formal financial system, according to the Global Findex database. The reasons behind women’s financial exclusion vary by country and region and are rooted in gendered economic norms that shape women’s access to and usage of financial services. It has historically been believed that efforts focused on poor and low-income segments would automatically translate into benefits for women. But a persistent gender gap of 9 percentage points in developing countries in account ownership rates suggests otherwise. As such, donors, researchers, regulators and financialserviceprovidersincreasinglyrecognizetheneed to apply a gender lens in their programming to ensure that women benefit equally from financial inclusion efforts. This includes identifying innovative approaches, product designs and delivery mechanisms that can address the underlying barriers to women’s financial inclusion. As part of this effort, CGAP recently launched the Women’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice (COP) to bring together practitioners, funders and policymakers active in this space. Less than one year since its launch, COP membership stands at over 160 organizations—a testament to decision-makers’ strong desire to connect with and learn from each other about women’s financial inclusion. Through COP, CGAP hopes to support an informed dialogue that will improve Photo: WorldRemit Comms via Flickr.