How Are We Helping?

To address this challenge, UNCDF has developed a global strategy on women’s economic participation and empowerment for Financial Inclusion Practice Area (FIPA) called Participation of Women in the Economy Realized (PoWER).

Its goal is that by 2022, nearly three million women and girls, in ten countries, starting with the five LDCs of Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Senegal, Tanzania, will have improved awareness of, access to, use of and control over financial products and services responsibly provided by diverse and sustainable service providers in a well-regulated environment. Further, the enabling environment and the socio-cultural context for greater access and agency for women and girls will be improved in these countries. This outcome is intended to contribute to more inclusive financial markets that drive women’s and girls' economic empowerment and participation.

Women and Girl’s Economic Participation and Empowerment

The Scale of the Challenge

Women and girls face barriers in the enabling environment, in the supply of and in their demand for financial products and services, as well as in their socio-cultural context.

These collectively limit their access, usage and control over these products and services in ways that constrain their economic empowerment. Consequently, women remain disproportionately excluded from the formal financial system. More than one billion women are still excluded, and there is a 9% gender gap in account ownership across developing economies. While there has been overall progress on financial inclusion in recent years, this gender gap has remained unchanged since 2011.

9% Gender Gap

in account ownership across developing economies

Even where women’s and men’s level of financial access is more equitable there are gender variations in usage patterns and in ways that affect women’s ability to participate economically. Furthermore, access and usage of financial services does not automatically confer women’s agency to control the benefits of financial product and service use. For instance, supply-side barriers restrict the availability of gender sensitive financial products and services. On the demand side, women and girls lack financial capabilities, confidence and voice. The legal, policy and regulatory environment tends to be gender blind and at times discriminatory. In sum, this restricts women and girls’ access, usage and agency over financial services, with implications for their economic empowerment.

Overcoming these diverse spheres of constraints is critical as financial inclusion is a key enabler of women’s economic empowerment - a global development goal in itself and essential to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs), poverty alleviation and economic growth.

1 Billion Women

excluded from formal financial services

Our Partners

Our Team

New York, USA

Beth Porter

Financial Inclusion Advisor

Katherine Miles

Consultant, PoWER initiative