8 things you may not
know about financial
inclusion and gender
How do women save and use financial services in the developing world?
A new report by the World Bank compiles evidence on gender gap in access to finance. Here
are some of the findings from recent studies.
Worldwide, more men (55%) than women (47%) own or co-own bank accounts. The gender
gap is biggest among people surviving on less than $2 daily and living in South Asia and the
Both men and women cite similar reasons for not owning a bank account, with lack of money
as the No. 1 commonly reported reason. In the developing world, women (26%) are more
likely than men (20%) to say they don’t own one because a family member already has an
Gender norms, by law or custom, influence the rate at which women access financial
services. In many developing countries, women don’t enjoy equal inheritance rights or
cannot own assets that can be used as collateral for loans.
Women fall behind men when it comes to using savings and lending instruments through
formal institutions, even after considering factors such as age, education, income and
residence (whether urban or rural).
More women than men use informal ways to save. In sub-Saharan Africa, 53% of women tap
informal community-based methods, such as rotating savings and credit associations, as
compared to 43% of men.
Compared to their male counterparts, female entrepreneurs tend to pay higher interest rates
or get less favorable loan terms and are more likely to shy away from seeking financing from
Owning personal savings instruments can boost women’s empowerment as it’s found to
prompt increased consumption and productive investment among women.
By itself, boosting access to financial services may not fuel the growth of women-owned
enterprises, if underlying causes of gender gap are not addressed. Due to some constraints –
such as lack of decision-making in the household or cooperation from husbands – women
would opt to invest in sectors that would have lower returns compared to men, even if they
are provided with business training.
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