Financial Inclusion Week: Women’s Financial Inclusion

Women’s financial inclusion is inextricably linked with her ability to access, use, and benefit from financial products and services. The overwhelming assumption within the inclusive finance industry and accompanying players is that well-designed products will ensure that women become bankable, thus leading to economic empowerment and inclusion. But this has proven to be far from true, as conventional financial products do not reach women well. Financial Inclusion Week content on this page explores these dynamics, including the role of social norms and financial capability, to promote discussion of how we can break down the persistent gender gap to advance inclusive finance.

WEBINAR: Women in Financial Inclusion

Financial Inclusion Nigeria joins the global conversation of Financial Inclusion Week. The focus of the deliberation was women in Financial Inclusion.


Mrs. Bunmi Lawson, MD, Edfin Microfinance Bank Ltd Lagos
Mrs Lola Okanlawon, Chairman, NNEW Microfinance Bank Ltd. Lagos
Mrs Onyeka Akpaida, Founder, Rendra Foundation Abuja
Mrs Njoel Ezeugo, MD, Hasal Microfinance Bank LTD Abuja


WEBINAR: Challenging the Myths Around Women's Financial Inclusion

This webinar looks at some of the most common myths around women’s digital financial inclusion and the often-changing reality behind them. The webinar is designed to test assumptions, highlight the enormous contextual difference and nuance that exists across half of the world’s population, and consider the perils of stereotyping or painting this population with a broad brush when it comes to access and use of financial services. We also discuss existing tools and experiences to minimize myth and maximize data.

Jaclyn Berfond Women’s World Banking
Shelley Spencer Strategic Impact Advisors
Catherine Highet FinEquity


WEBINAR: But How Do You Change Behavior?

Women are not a single market segment – they are heterogenous and approach financial products and services with diverse skills sets and needs. This panel discussed enabling women’s financial capability through different entry points, optimal approaches to different livelihood segments, and behavior change strategies that may work differently for women and men.

Julia Arnold, Senior Director, Gender and Financial Inclusion, Center for Financial Inclusion
Ella Moffat, HERfinance Manager, BSR
Nisha Singh, Social Norms Lead, FinEquity
Wendy Chamberlin, Global Program Director, The BOMA Project


Approaches to building women’s financial capability must take differences in access, use and confidence between men and women into account in order to be successful.
Julia Arnold, Senior Director, Gender and Financial Inclusion, CFI

WEBINAR: Pathways to Women’s Economic Empowerment through Digital Finance

The use of digital technology in the financial sector and the rapid expansion of digital financial services (DFS) brings new opportunities to help build an inclusive economic infrastructure that offers new opportunities to marginalized communities, especially women. The economic empowerment of women is a crucial development issue, which DFS has a strong potential to advance. During this session, the speakers will discuss the development of a conceptual framework to explore the pathways linking women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and DFS. The speakers will also highlight the priority questions to be addressed by the newly launched WEE-DiFine initiative, a research initiative aimed at generating a comprehensive body of evidence around the impact of DFS on WEE.

Munshi Sulaiman, BRAC International
Rachel Heath, University of Washington
Wahedur Rahman, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development


WEBINAR: Digital Gender-Smart Solutions Paving Pathways for Deeper Financial Inclusion for Women

This session traverses how far financial inclusion has come for women and the role that digital financial services are playing in enhancing access. We explore how gender-smart digital financial products and solutions are being designed, implemented and delivered for greater gender-transformative impact, enabling women to experience outcomes of enhanced economic opportunity and resilience. We dig into the role of types of capital and spotlight emerging and innovative models bridging both gender and funding gaps that are enabling inclusive fintech solutions to better support income and revenue generating activities of women users and women-led businesses.

Anna Kanze Managing Director, Grassroots Capital Management PBC
Robert Mboya Co-founder & COO, Cherehani Africa
Sana Kapadia Gender Lead, Programs & Advisory, Roots of Impact
Selina Haeny Gender Advisor, SDC


WEBINAR: The Gendered and Social Dynamics of Digital Savings Groups

Digitization is the future of Savings Groups across the globe. Some regions will transition sooner than others, but one day soon digital record-keeping will be the standard. This webinar explores the gendered and social dynamics of digital Savings Groups based on a six-month study by the International Center for Research on Women, in partnership with PCI and DreamStart Labs. Project partners present findings and key insights in three specific areas:

  • The gendered effects of digital Savings Group solutions
  • Rethinking key roles within digital Savings Groups
  • The different impacts of transitioning mature groups to digital vs. forming new digital Savings Groups Going digital?

Dennis Mello Director, Women Empowered (WE) Savings Groups Program, PCI, a Global Communities Partner
Julia Arnold Senior Director, Gender and Financial Inclusion, Center for Financial Inclusion
Wes Wasson CEO & Co-founder, DreamStart Labs


PODCAST: What do gender roles have to do with interest rates

The persistent global gender gap in both bank account and mobile phone ownership is well known by now. Why is this gap so stubborn and how do we eliminate it? This podcast, moderated by CFI’s Julia Arnold, features three thought-leaders and researchers to discuss this and other questions in a lively and informative conversation.

Julia Arnold, Senior Director, Gender and Financial Inclusion, Center for Financial Inclusion
Jemimah Njuki, PhD., Senior Program Specialist, International Development Research Center (IDRC)
Leora Klapper, PhD., Lead Economist, World Bank
Supriya Garikipati, PhD., Associate Professor of Development Economics, University of Liverpool


There’s still a significant gender gap in account ownership that has persisted since 2011. Men are 9 percentage points more likely than women to have an account.
Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, World Bank

WEBINAR: What DFS features might matter more to women than men?

Do DFS features impact women differently to men? Helene Smertnik and Savita Bailur share findings from research conducted in Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya on the Level One Principles of DFS for Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor team and how financial payment design features impact women differently to men. They focus on five key findings 1) interoperability is a concern and needs to be improved 2) pattern recognition in USSD matters for women in sending or reading DFS messages 3) fees are not always clearly explained to women 4) privacy is key and 5) irrevocability is especially important for merchants.

Helene Smertnik Senior Researcher, Caribou Digital
Savita Bailur Research Director, Caribou Digital


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