Women and Money: Bridging the Financial Inclusion Gender Gap in the Global South

Monday, June 9, 2014

The urban poor in the Global South lack access to banking and financial services, and women are disproportionately affected. They are less likely than men to hold a bank account, to take out a loan, or to borrow money. This is a detriment to development since women are more likely to spend extra funds on their family, thereby improving food, education, and health. São Paulo, Mexico City, Nairobi, Bangalore, and Dhaka have taken various approaches to bridging the financial inclusion gender gap.

Over a third of Brazilians over the age of 16 are without bank accounts or access to credit and saving services. One of the key mechanisms in Brazil to improve financial inclusion, especially for women, has been the Bolsa Família program – the cash transfer benefitting more than 13 million low-income families. The program transfers monthly stipends to each family depending on their poverty level and their number of children. In 93 percent of cases, women are the main recipients of these transfers, emboldening their voices and boosting their empowerment within the household. The Bolsa Família program contributes to the first stages of financial inclusion, as it provides a bank account and a card for each beneficiary family. With this card, beneficiaries can withdraw the cash that has been granted by the program. Unfortunately, most beneficiaries withdraw the full amount from their monthly deposit and don’t use their accounts as proper checking or saving accounts. Lack of understanding regarding banking rules and procedures is another remaining challenge, so Caixa, the bank that supports the implementation of Bolsa Família, is currently piloting educational campaigns.

Source: Huffington Post (link opens in a new window)

Impact Assessment
financial inclusion