Street Food (Georgia) -- Tatiana Sharapova, 2016 CGAP Photo Contest Photo by Tatiana Sharapova, 2016 CGAP Photo Contest

Women's Financial Inclusion: Closing the Gender Gap

Despite overall progress in financial inclusion, the gender gap in account ownership has remained stubbornly persistent at nine percentage points since 2011, according to Global Findex. The reasons are complex, often interwoven with greater exclusion and vulnerability for women than men, and underpinned by social norms, which are not well understood or tackled by financial inclusion programming. CGAP seeks to bring a deeper understanding of the interplay of social norms and women’s financial inclusion, and simultaneously mainstream a gender lens across all of its programmatic areas focused on helping poor people capture opportunities and build resilience.

Addressing the persistent barrier to women’s financial inclusion

CGAP places a priority on the economic empowerment of women through financial inclusion. We are investigating what prevailing social norms constrain women’s uptake and usage of financial services, and how financial service providers and policymakers can work towards alleviating such constraints. We also look at how financial inclusion programs can incorporate gender-based insights on norms, which can help women grow income generating opportunities, or navigate technology in the same way as men.


Funders must develop a deeper understanding of how to tackle social norms that restrict women's financial inclusion. Lessons from CGAP’s research in Turkey help point the way.

Financial services providers are a part of the societies in which they operate, and their decisions can bolster gender norms that restrict or expand women’s access to financial services.
Advancing women’s financial inclusion through new approaches

Online market places are expanding through digital platforms and social media, spurring new or expanded opportunities for income generation by poor women globally. CGAP is delving into the livelihood generation opportunities informal social commerce leveraging digital platforms, as well as gig work facilitated by dedicated platforms. Exploring the role financial services can play in supporting women’s participation will help market systems facilitators and financial service providers better meet women’s financial needs.


Closing the financial inclusion gender gap is about more than account access. It’s about making sure accounts unlock real opportunities for women. In Bangladesh, linking mobile money to informal e-commerce could meaningfully advance women’s financial inclusion.

Millions of women are buying and selling goods online across Asia — but, at least in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan, they’re not transacting on e-commerce platforms. They’re using social platforms instead, often without digital payments.

Many women in Myanmar and across Asia are using social media to conduct online commerce. Meet three entrepreneurs who are engaging in this type of informal e-commerce in Myanmar and have created jobs for other women.
Supporting CGAP partners to promote systemic change for women

To advance women’s financial inclusion, there needs to be a deeper understanding of use cases in which financial services can be leveraged by women, and how stakeholders are supporting them. FinEquity, a community of practice convened by CGAP to advance women’s financial inclusion globally, plays a key role in connecting stakeholders and sharing knowledge. Working with financial service providers, donors play an important role in identifying and investing in innovative solutions in product design, channel delivery, policy, ecosystem development, and data. CGAP’s gender work across the institution supports the women’s empowerment mandates of its members.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank Group, CGAP, and Women’s World Banking, has developed a joint white paper on gender intentional digital cash transfers in the time of COVID-19, offering guidance and considerations for policymakers to support women’s inclusion and empowerment.  

Ghana launched the world's first digital finance policy earlier this year. Here are five ways the new policy can be implemented to help Ghana close its gender gap in financial inclusion.

Here are some useful ways to segment the more than 160 million micro and small businesses in developing countries for more targeted, effective COVID-19 relief.

Funding for women's financial inclusion is on the rise, but just 10 percent of financial inclusion programs are identified as having a gender component, according to the CGAP Funders Survey.

Unless policies consider gender, we risk leaving behind the most vulnerable in society, particularly women, limiting our ability to achieve the SDGs. However, if implemented with gender in mind, the basic regulatory enablers of digital finance can increase women's financial inclusion.

Researchers can shed new light on the impact of financial inclusion on women by applying three principles in their work.
FinEquity: A global community convened by CGAP


As part of our gender work, CGAP also hosts FinEquity, a global community of practice consisting of 1,500 members, representing some 400 institutions from 70 countries. FinEquity provides facilitated platforms to share experiences, identify key challenges and discuss ways to solve problems in increasing access to and use of financial services by women. Its strategy is guided by member needs, and it currently has three working groups: Measurement and Data, Social Norms, and Technology. Learn More>>