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Access to financial services can transform women's lives. Here's how

This video is part of: Centre for the New Economy and Society

Globally, women are less likely than men to have a bank account or access to financial services. Women's World Banking, an organization focused on financial inclusion for women in developing countries, is working to change this.

How Women's World Banking measures this change

Martha Chen, a Harvard economist, partnered with Women's World Banking to develop a framework to investigate the impact of financial inclusion on women's lives. They looked at four key areas:

  • Material Change: Did the woman's income increase? Did the family have more assets? Did they have better access to food?
  • Cognitive Change: Did the woman gain new skills or knowledge through financial products?
  • Relational Change: How did the woman's relationships with others change with access to finance? Did she have more decision-making power in the household?
  • Perceptual Change: Did the woman's self-confidence increase? Did she start planning for her own future, not just her family's?

The economic opportunity gap

In low-income countries, only a quarter of businesses have female owners. Many women entrepreneurs don't apply for loans due to factors like low financial literacy.

This contributes to the global economic participation gap, which is only 60% closed. At the current pace, it will take another 169 years to fully close the gap.

The benefits of financial inclusion

Financial services companies are missing out on a huge opportunity by not serving women. There's a growing recognition that including women in the financial system is not just good social policy, but also good business.

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