We live in a world where women, especially in developing countries, face formidable obstacles to achieve financial independence. Many of them only own the jewelry they wear and some money under the mattress, with no insurance. They represent 55 percent of all adults with no bank accounts, despite recent increases in the number of people with bank accounts across the globe.
According to the latest findings of the Global Findex report by the World Bank Group, more than 1 billion women still do not use or have access to the financial system.
Elsewhere, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates there is a $300 billion gap in financing for formal, women-owned small businesses. Besides, more than 70 percent of women-owned small and medium enterprises cannot access financial services properly.
Technology is key to helping women out of this situation, but first they need to gain access to it. In developing economies, the number of male owners of cell phones is 200 times higher than that of females. With no access to mobile technology, women are excluded from secure and convenient digital payments systems, and may have to rely on their husbands to access digital services, thus perpetuating a cycle of dependence.
But not all is bad news as there are positive changes happening as well, according to this article by WSJ. Custom Studios in collaboration with Multipliers of Prosperity. And the good news comes from the technology front.
Many organizations are working to achieve financial equality for women. These include Banking on Women, Better Work, SheWorks, and Women on Boards. Their missions is to help women entrepreneurs grow their business, create work opportunities and conditions, and give them a voice in the business community.
“Kashf [a Pakistan-based microfinance organization] and some organizations are implementing programs that teach women how to use mobile money and mobile accounts. Others are working to create smartphone apps that use voice recognition technology and images rather than words and numbers,” it says.
One practical example comes from Bangladesh where garment factory workers, mostly women, may soon be getting paid electronically rather than in cash, which researchers believe could help women “budget better, handle emergencies better and have more stable financial lives.”
Experts agree that empowering women financially is key to eradicating extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity, which cannot be achieved without equality between men and women. Besides, investing in women’s economic participation not only promotes inclusion and development, but it also makes business sense for companies and the economies where they belong.
Image credit: MetLife Foundation
– See more at: http://www.justmeans.com/blogs/womens-financial-inclusion-is-key-to-promoting-equality#sthash.gb8Krr5j.dpuf