Partnership aims to accelerate access to, and usage of, digital financial tools, services and enabling technologies to help low-income women build economic resilience
Women’s World Banking and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) today announced a strategic partnership to enhance financial inclusion and access to digital financial services for women and girls, specifically in emerging markets and least developed countries. The partnership will support economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5, which encourages women’s economic empowerment through equal rights to financial services, enhanced use of enabling technology, and policies to promote gender equality.
The partnership comes at a critical time as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to set back progress made in gender equality by decades. Women’s financial inclusion represents an incredible opportunity for sustainable development and economic resilience for global economies, with more than 1 billion women remaining outside the formal financial system. Women are more likely to lack formal financial accounts or to work in the informal sector, meaning that their ability to navigate economic shocks like COVID-19 is greatly diminished. By combining their collective strengths in innovative finance and digital financial solutions, as well as their global reach, UNCDF and Women’s World Banking will work towards addressing the barriers that prevent women’s economic empowerment and participation in the world’s most challenging markets. Specific focus will be placed on investment tools to increase financing for women entrepreneurs; utilizing and advancing digital financial solutions to expand financial inclusion; and supporting public and private sector partners to enhance government-to-people payments (G2P).
Women’s World Banking is a non-profit organization that designs and invests in financial solutions, institutions, and policy environments in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities. Working with 51 institutions across 28 countries, Women’s World Banking connects low-income women with financial services to encourage their financial inclusion and economic empowerment. Commenting on the partnership, President and Chief Executive Officer Mary Ellen Iskenderian said: “While great strides have been made recently to create more inclusive financial systems, women around the world remain perilously close to economic hardship and life-altering reversals as a result of their inability to access and use full suites of financial products and services. COVID-19 has put this lack of access into sharp relief. Our partnership with UNCDF presents an ideal platform from which to advocate to policymakers and financial service providers around the world to place even greater emphasis on putting the financial tools in women’s hands so they can participate and contribute economically as equal partners. Only then will our societies become fairer and our economies more stable.”
UNCDF is a UN agency with specialized expertise in making finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs), notably with its capital mandate and instruments that unlock public and private resources to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s Financial Inclusion Practice Area (FIPA) is focused on building inclusive digital economies that leave no one behind. “Gender equality continues to be a key focus for UNCDF as we are very focused on addressing the market constraints to digital and financial autonomy for women in our partner countries. We are pleased to enter into this strategic and technical partnership, which will help deepen our commitment to advancing gender equality in least developed regions. This is critical to our work on advancing 'Women as Builders of Digital Economies'," says Henri Dommel, Director of UNCDF FIPA.
On the occasion of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly and Celebration on October 1st high-level meeting to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to advance the transformative global agenda for gender equality and along with the theme "Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” Women’s World Banking and UNCDF announce their partnership towards the achievement of these goals.
Women’s World Banking and UNCDF will focus immediately on identifying solutions, opportunities, and partnerships to accelerate women’s access to financial services in light of the pandemic. In the next year, the two partners will work to share learnings, increase respective networks, and convene experts to make practical and tangible recommendations to guide and focus the partnership. They will also invite collaboration with other entities, working with interested partners aligned and committed to these recommendations—including governments, development finance institutions, financial service providers, fintechs, and investors—to deliver concrete, impactful solutions.
The partners will also look to further add to UNCDF’s leadership role in the Generation Equality Forum—the campaign led by UN Women to leverage public, private, and civil society leaders to drive systemic change that will reduce gender inequality—as a platform for their efforts. UNCDF was selected by UN Women earlier this year to be the UN lead for the Economic Justice and Rights Action Coalition within the Generation Equality Forum. UNCDF and Women’s World Banking will look to the Forum to apply their solutions to strengthen the Action Coalition’s efforts.
About Women’s World Banking
Women’s World Banking designs and invests in the financial solutions, institutions, and policy environments in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities. With a global reach of 51 partners in 28 countries serving more than 67 million women clients, Women’s World Banking drives impact through its scalable, market-driven solutions; gender-lens private equity fund; and leadership and diversity programs. To learn more about Women’s World Banking, visit womensworldbanking.org.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries. With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.
UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local development finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization.
By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals—SDG 1 on eradicating poverty and SDG 17 on the means of implementation. By identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact in helping to reach the last mile and address exclusion and inequalities of access, UNCDF contributes to a broad diversity of SDGs. Visit us at www.uncdf.org, follow @UNCDF and subscribe for updates at bit.ly/2wwDiqs