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MENA Policy Forum to Build on GBA G20 Recommendations

Wednesday 10th October 2018

MENA Policy Forum Newsletter October 2018Advancing Women’s Economic Access Globally

As co-chair in 2018 of the Financial Inclusion sub-group of the W20 – the official G20 engagement group dedicated to promoting gender inclusiveness and gender equality – GBA participated in the W20 Summit last week, advising the group on the content of the final recommendations for advancing women’s economic access and participation to be presented to G20 leaders.

Sixty-five international delegates collaborated to finalize the Communiqué, which is the product of a year of dialogue among hundreds of organizations representing the interests of women worldwide. The final document highlighted as critical levers: increasing women’s access to and use of financial services, women’s participation in the labor force, women’s digital inclusion, and the development of rural women. Following three days of enlightening and inspiring dialogue on achieving global gender parity, the Communiqué was presented to the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri on
October 3.

With a strong focus on women’s financial inclusion as a key pillar of advancing women’s economic access, the event featured panelists from major private sector players like Google and Coca-Cola, as well as multilaterals and government representatives from around the world. In a much-anticipated address on the final day of the event, IDB Invest and OPIC announced Fund Mujer – an alliance for the creation of the first gender-focused fund for Latin America and the Caribbean for up to $200 million. The fund aims to narrow the gender financing gap in the region by supporting investment strategies focused on female entrepreneurs, companies with a significant share of women leaders, and firms that generate jobs or consumer products for women.

Drilling Down on Women’s Financial Inclusion: The MENA Region

The opening sessions of the 2018 Annual GBA Summit, “The Future of Financial Services for Women,” will build on the GBA’s financial inclusion work with the W20. With the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region serving as the backdrop for this year’s event, the Summit will open with a special look at Key Enablers of Women’s Economic Empowerment through a public policy lens – exploring interventions that can be applied to boost women’s economic participation both within the region and beyond.

Women in MENA have the highest gender gap in the world when it comes to bank account access: Just 35 percent of women in the region have a formal account compared to 52 percent of men. There is also an estimated credit gap to women-owned/led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) of US$38 billion in the region. The Policy Forum will tackle the main legal and regulatory barriers to women’s economic empowerment and the progressive actions being taken by policymakers to level the playing field for two key segments identified as priorities in W20 discussions: women’s MSMEs and unbanked women.

Over 100 countries still have at least one statute on the books that inhibits women’s full economic participation. A representative from the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law team will set the stage for the Policy Forum by drilling down to the five priority action areas that need to be addressed in MENA to enable women’s full financial inclusion and economic empowerment.

The event will continue with a look at how to get more capital into the hands of women business owners/leaders in the region. Finance is the lifeblood of any business, and women find it challenging to access it for a variety of reasons. The session will explore levers such as:

  • Reforming laws affecting marital property, inheritance and joint titling of land to reduce lack of access and control over assets/collateral.
  • Financial infrastructure solutions that de-risk financing women-owned/led business by counterbalancing traditional collateral requirements.
  • Moving more businesses from the informal to the formal sector.
  • Establishing a policy framework and ecosystem that accelerates women’s enterprise development.

Anchoring the Policy Forum will be a deep look at the unbanked women in the region and what can be done to increase their access to financial services. The critical need to advance laws and regulatory frameworks that enable access to and use of digital financial services will be explored, with a particular look at frameworks for agent banking and mobile financial services, as well as flexible KYC requirements that are sensitive to lower levels of identification documents among women.

His Excellency Dr. Ziad Fariz, Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan, will deliver the keynote address at the event, hosted by Bank al Etihad on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan. His Excellency has held numerous positions in the Jordanian government and banking sector throughout his illustrious career. You can learn more about him and our other excellent speakers now by visiting the GBA Summit Hub, updated on an ongoing basis with the most current event information.

Be sure to register for the Summit soon to secure your spot. While registration officially closes October 26, visas to Jordan can take several weeks to process for citizens of many countries. If you do not have your link and code to register, please reach out to summit@gbaforwomen.org to request it.