Financial inclusion is improving around the world—but women are still missing out
By Josh Detrixhe, Eshe Nelson
The good news is that mobile phones and the internet are bringing millions of people into the formal financial system, meaning they have bank accounts or a mobile money provider for the first time. This is important because financial inclusion is crucial in helping people save money for an emergency, get loans to start businesses, and escape poverty. The bad news, however, is that the financial-inclusion gap between men and women in developing economies hasn’t improved in the past six years.
Some 3.8 billion people around the world, or 69% of all adults, have a bank account or mobile money provider as of last year, which is up from 62% in 2014, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex database. About 1.2 billion adults have obtained some sort of formal financial account since 2011, when the rate of financial inclusion was just 51%. Still, there are 1.7 billion people around the world who remain outside of the formal financial system. The World Bank notes that two-thirds of these people have a mobile phone, providing a potential platform to open an account in the future.
In developing countries, the gap in financial inclusion between men and women has stalled at nine percentage points. Not every emerging market has this disparity—men and women are equally likely to have an account in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, for instance. Even so, making sure women have equal access to financial services can change lives, said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped fund the index.
Photo courtesy of Jaume Escofet.