Cross-Cutting Thematics Back

Gender Finance

We support efforts to reduce gender gaps in access to and use of financial services by individuals and businesses, and support for female entrepreneurship and greater participation of women in the economy.

Gender equality concerning the access to financial resources is a key issue in order to promote the empowerment of women as well as economic growth and sustainable development. A better provision of financial resources available to women would empower them economically but also politically and socially. Furthermore, at the household level, women represent in most cases the primary financial managers in the families, ensuring intra-household resource allocation to meet ongoing basic needs and additional saving to invest and protect their families’ future. Yet, women receive very little support in their businesses and often do not know about their rights to seek financial services. Their access to financial resources remains difficult.

An explicit concern with gender issues with reference to financial services and inclusion is nothing new. The problem of women’s access to credit was already stressed at the first International Women’s Conference in Mexico in 1975, leading to the constitution of the Women’s World Banking network and from the early 1990s microfinance programmes started to specifically target women also in consideration of their likelihood to have higher repayment rates.

Despite the existence of programmes specifically focused on women, there is a long way to go to ensure equal gender access to financial services, particularly in rural areas. According to recent surveys, across the developing countries 46% of men have a formal account, but only 37% of women do, with a persistent gender gap of 6 to 9 percentage points across income groups within developing economics.

Women face a wide range of constraints that hamper their access to financial services. On the demand side, they are likely to lack financial capability and confidence to manage their finances thus impeding them from being in a position to take advantage of opportunities. They are also likely to lack time due to their important role in the household and mobility in order to interact with financial service providers.  Finally, women  are often in a weaker position to take on funding for their microenterprises and SMEs as traditions and cultural rules combined with a lack of property rights can discriminate against them in terms of access to property and lack of sufficient assets that can be accepted as collateral. For example, in certain North African countries, lending practices may be influenced by institutional barriers and practices such as requiring husbands to co-sign for a loan , to ensure that women’s initiatives are approved by their husbands.

On the supply side, many constraints are valid regardless of gender, however, some weigh more against women. Indeed, service delivery is not adapted to women, limited physical outreach of financial institutions and their restricted opening hours are a particular constraint for women, since they are less mobile. Furthermore insufficient gender disaggregated data limits market information and financial institutions lack credible information on women clients and their potential.

Available data show a general low access to financial services across the African continent. Within the regional context. men’s access to financial services is consistently ahead of that of women, but disparities within the continent remain. In Sub-Saharan Africa the gender gap is relatively small compared to the MENA region: 27% of men and 22% of women report to have a formal account compared to 23% of men and 13% of women in the MENA region. In the four North African countries where data is available (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia) the percentage of women with bank accounts at formal financial institutions is consistently half that of men, ranging from 6.5% (women) and 12.8% (men) in Egypt and 26.7% (women) and 52% (men) in Morocco. A similar disparity can be traced with reference to the access to loan, with data ranging from 0.5% (women) and 2.5% (men) in Algeria and 3.6% (women) and 5.0% (men) in Morocco and account to receive remittances with data spanning from 0.2% (women) and 1.2% (men) in Egypt and 8.1% (women) and 12.1% (men) in Morocco. In terms of insurance policies available data suggests a very limited penetration regardless of gender, with the most striking difference registered for agricultural insurance (11.2% of men and 6.2% of women paid for crop, rainfall or livestock insurance) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite these various constraints, there are opportunities to advance women’s financial inclusion across the continent. Financial institutions, multilateral and bilateral organizations, non-profit entities and the private sector are increasingly aware of the importance of empowering women economically by increasing their access to finance. Looking forward, removing discriminatory aspects of legal and regulatory frameworks, particularly with reference to land and property ownership, will be an important factor in improving women’s financial inclusion in Africa. This aim can also be supported by increasing the awareness of policy makers and other stakeholders with regard to the financial needs of women and bringing women leaders directly into policy dialogue.


Jul 04, 2019
National Bank of Malawi Plc recently conducted a women's training and interaction workshop aimed at groomin
Jul 01, 2019
Women have shown they are more likely to repay their loans when compared to their male counterparts, statis
Apr 18, 2019
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) announces the launch of Finance2Equal Tanzania, a programme aimed at facilitating women’s access to financial ser
Apr 17, 2019
Heads of state, ministers, leaders of multilateral development banks, private sector executives, women entrepreneurs, and contributing governments of the Women…
Jul 29, 2019
The Making Finance Work for Africa Secretariat (MFW4A) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) organized during the second half of 2018 and the first quarter…
Jul 29, 2019
In 2018, the six countries (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania) comprising North Africa accounted for 26% of Africa’s GDP. These countries…
Jul 29, 2019
Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) brought together government officials, representatives of central banks,…
Jul 22, 2019 - Jul 26, 2019
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Trade and Development Bank (TDB) are pleased to organize a Regional Banking…
Sep 11, 2019 - Sep 13, 2019
Kigali, Rwanda
Hosted by the National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), the 2019 GPF aims to showcase the experience of Rwanda and…


This blog was originally published on Cenfri website. The 2014 Global Findex Report identified that in developing economies, women are 9% less…


Jul 30, 2019 | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dec 31, 2018 | R. Chamboko, S. Heitmann, M. Van Der Westhuizen | Mastercard Foundation, IFC
Nov 30, 2018 | K.S. Miles, M. Wiedmaier-Pfister | InsuResilience Global Partnership
Oct 31, 2018 | N. Buehren, M. Goldstein, L. Klapper et al. | The World Bank
Jul 31, 2018 | S. Alibhai, N. Buehren, S. Papineni | The World Bank

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