Closing the Financial Inclusion Gender Gap
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Research suggests that women might be better money managers than men. Recentstudies, for example, have found that women investors have more patience for long-term returns and exhibit greater self-control, which leads them to less impulsive, risky decisions.
In the context of family finances in the developing world, these characteristics translate into something that Caitlin Sanford from Bankable Frontier Associates calls “playing defensive”. At a recent gathering promoted by the non-profit Women’s World Banking on the role of women in financial inclusion, Sanford recalled the story of an East African family that she met during a year-long research project. When the family ran into legal trouble over their makeshift home-brewery business, the woman made sure her husband was taken into custody, not her. The rationale: He simply wouldn’t have been able to mobilize their family and friends network in order to raise the required bail money as she did.
Given the central role women play in the family finances in many developing countries, there is some good news in the recently released Global Findex data: The traditional financial access gender gap has narrowed in some countries. In Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire, for example, where technology innovations are driving broader financial inclusion success, there is virtually no difference in access to the new mobile money accounts between women and men. In Tanzania, the access gap by household income is now nearly twice as big as the gap between men and women, suggesting that poverty is a bigger barrier than gender.