Tuesday 29th November 2016
As a follow-up to the adoption of the Denarau Action Plan in September that integrated gender into the Alliance for Financial Inclusion‘s annual commitment statement and action plan, GBA has been actively supporting efforts to concretize its implementation through providing expert input at two of AFI’s regional forums in November — the Financial Inclusion Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC) in Cartagena, Colombia, and the High-Level Forum on “Advancing Women’s Financial Inclusion in the Arab World” last week in Jordan.
Both events included gender as a strategic priority for regulators and policymakers in both regions. The launch of FILAC, which was supported by the International Development Research Center (IDRC), was an historic achievement to help accelerate financial inclusion in the region. GBA was represented by Rebecca Ruf, VP of Programs, in the plenary session titled “Addressing the Gender Gap in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Panelists discussed the benefits of sex-disaggregated data and the important role regulators can play in its collection. FILAC’s foundation document, the “Cartagena de Indias Consensus,” was endorsed at the end of the event, which set out the main priority areas for the region, including Digital Financial Services, Data, Women’s Financial Inclusion, and Consumer Empowerment and Financial Literacy.
The High-Level Forum on “Advancing Women’s Financial Inclusion in the Arab World” was a collaboration with the Arab Monetary Fund, a regional body of regulators, and GBA’s interventions focused on three areas: the need for sex-disaggregated data to support market development; the holistic value proposition that GBA members provide — demonstrating the what and the business case; and outlining suggested priorities from GBA members that central banks should focus on in order to promote full inclusion, particularly for women SME owners. GBA was represented by Inez Murray, CEO, as well as Bank al Etihad CEO Nadia Al Saeed, who shared the great strides the bank has made with the Women’s Market and internal diversity and inclusion policies, as well as Karyl Akilian, Head of Brands Management at BLC Bank, the leader in the MENA region on this strategy.
Both banks actively work with the central banks in their respective countries to support their capacity to serve the Women’s Market. The critical recommendations cited by GBA were: the importance of loan guarantees and lines of credit aimed at supporting women SME owners in the sub-sectors they are operating in; preferential rates on funds and/or the capacity to free up some reserves; support for equity investments in high-growth start-ups; robust market data to accurately size the market and penetration levels (product, channel); integrating women into the supply chain through government procurement mandates; supporting ecosystem actors in supplying financial and business education as well as incubators; simplifying KYC requirements; flexible work hours to encourage back-to-work schemes; and examination of the range of laws on the books that hamper in one form or another a woman’s capacity to participate in the economy — as ably tracked by Women, Business and the Law, the World Bank database.
GBA was delighted to see a number of central bankers who were appointed to the newly formed AFI Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee (GWFIC), including its Chair, Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Zambia, at the meeting to share their know-how and strategy with their Arab counterparts on getting a Regional and then National Financial Inclusion Action Plan with gender fully integrated. Separately, GBA is working with Dr. Kankasa-Mabula on building the capacity of banks in Africa in 2017 to deliver to the Women’s Market.