Elderly woman sells popcorn at her micro shop in front of a car Photo by Tatiana Sharapova/2016 CGAP Photo Contest

Women's Financial Inclusion

Despite growing global efforts, women’s financial inclusion has made little progress over the past decade. Women continue to face greater financial exclusion and vulnerability than men, with shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to reverse some of the gains made so far. Closing the gender access gap in account ownership, which has remained unchanged at six percentage points in developing economies since 2011, is necessary—but not enough. With low account usage and inactivity keeping dormancy rates persistently high, CGAP’s approach goes further. We are focused on the ways financial services can actually help poor people, especially women, to do three things: generate income, access essential services, and protect basic standards of living. We believe that it is through improving access, usage and outcomes of financial services that women can realize economic empowerment.

In our approach to gender equity in financial inclusion, we seek to make sense of the challenges and opportunities that pave the way to women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment. Our research brings a deeper analysis around the drivers of the gender gap in account ownership, focusing on the interplay of social norms that constrain women’s activities and women’s financial inclusion, which are not well understood or tackled by most financial inclusion programming. We also aim to explore women’s formal and informal income-generating opportunities that add value to women’s lives and livelihoods leveraging digital solutions. At the same time, we apply a gender lens across all our projects and drive stakeholder influence to advance women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment.

Addressing barriers to women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment

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 are also looking at when the inclusion gender gap in account ownership emerges to better understand how financial inclusion programs can help women in different life stages and we continue to explore how women can navigate financial services and digital solutions in the same way as men.

Advancing women’s economic empowerment by adding value to their livelihoods

Because meeting women’s financial needs require developing a nuanced understanding of their lives and livelihoods, CGAP is delving into women’s formal and informal income-generating opportunities. We seek to understand how digital platforms and informal online commerce, facilitated by social media, can help women—including those in rural and agricultural livelihoods—connect with new buyers and more active markets. Exploring the role financial services can play in supporting women’s participation and boosting their returns will help market systems facilitators and financial service providers advance women’s economic empowerment.

Also, given the key role cash-in/cash-out agent networks play in extending digital financial services and ultimately expanding financial inclusion, we recognize that these networks can accelerate women's access to and usage of financial services. We are working with partners to test gender-intentional approaches to CICO network development. Bookmark this page to stay on top of our findings.

Leveraging influence and strategic partnerships to drive systemic change for women

A global think tank, partner and convener, CGAP aims to influence systemic change for women by bringing together stakeholders to pool knowledge, experience, and expertise and co-create solutions. As the convener of FinEquity, the global community of practice for women’s financial inclusion, we enable cross-industry learning, convening, and relationship-building for women’s financial inclusion and we leverage learning and impact through CGAP members. We are currently exploring how gender lens investing (GLI) can optimize the impact funders, donors and investors have by working with investees and other market actors to enhance the value proposition of financial services in driving women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment.

FinEquity: A global community convened by CGAP

CGAP convenes the global community of practice FinEquity, which works to accelerate women's economic empowerment through financial inclusion by catalyzing knowledge generation, fostering best practices and encouraging sector collaboration. FinEquity provides a variety of channels and facilitated platforms for members to share experiences, identify key challenges, discuss new ideas, document emerging good practices, and solve common problems associated with increasing equitable access to and use of a broad range of financial services. Its learning agenda is organized around three main learning themes: Gender-Transformative Solutions, Digitally-Enabled Financial Inclusion, and Impact Pathways. FinEquity also created  FinEquityALC, a regional and Spanish-language platform.

Learn more | Subscribe to FinEquity’s newsletter | Join Dgroups | Visit the regional FinEquityALC platform 

Latest Research


The Impact of Financial Inclusion on Young Women’s Well-being: A Survey of Evidence and Recommendations for Practitioners

Young women face many gender-based barriers as they navigate major life transitions, with life-long effects. A new CGAP Working Paper finds that in addition to improving financial skills and savings levels, financial inclusion initiatives may also improve health and livelihood outcomes when combined with other interventions.

Four Ways Rural Women Are Disproportionately Affected by Climate Change

Climate Change impacts women in rural areas in many ways, from reduced employment opportunities to limited access to productive resources. But Financial Inclusion can empower them to build resilience and adapt to change.


Bolstering Women’s Climate Resilience and Adaptation through Financial Services

Financial services help people to reduce the impact of and to adapt to climate-related risks. Yet women have less access to such tools. This working paper illustrates how women are differently impacted by climate change and how financial services can play a better role in strengthening their autonomous adaptive capacities to climate change.

Latest Blogs


What Does Financial Inclusion Mean for Young Women’s Well-being?

Well-implemented financial inclusion (FI) initiatives for various sub-segments of young women can produce positive financial and non-financial outcomes. Current research shows plural programs with FI components can benefit marginalized young women.

What Does Financial Inclusion Mean for Young Women’s Well-being?

Well-implemented financial inclusion (FI) initiatives for various sub-segments of young women can produce positive financial and non-financial outcomes. Current research shows plural programs with FI components can benefit marginalized young women.

Four Ways to Integrate Gender in Financial Inclusion Investments

How can impact investors integrate gender throughout the investment cycle to improve women’s financial inclusion and contribute to WEE and gender equality? We highlight four emerging practices investors can use.