Women make up a little over half the world’s population, but their contribution to measured economic activity, growth, and well-being is far below its potential, which results in significant macroeconomic consequences. Globally, less than half of women participate in the labor force, compared to three-quarters of men. In developing regions, up to 95 percent of women’s employment is informal, in jobs that are unprotected by labor laws or do not benefit from social protection. The consequence of this lack of equality is missed opportunities for individuals, households, and economies. Financial services are a core enabler for self-employment, enterprise growth, and asset or wealth creation for households. Lack of access to financial services contributes to women’s marginalization to the informal sector and reduces their ability to fully engage in measurable and productive economic activities. Despite decades of focus on women as an important client group, there has been limited progress in reducing the gap in women’s access to finance.
We are focusing on scaling up successful norms-transformative initiatives and improving the digital and financial capability of subsegments of women customers.
At CFI, we believe women’s financial inclusion is powerfully shaped by broader societal norms, the unspoken assumptions and values governing the role of women in society. Efforts to improve women’s financial inclusion must also seek to transform, rather than merely acknowledge, these underlying norms. Our work in this area includes an intensive focus on research into successful norms-transformative initiatives, and how those might be scaled up. We are also working to improve the digital and financial capability of subsegments of women customers to help enable access to the range of — and to influence the policy environment for — women’s financial inclusion.