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Financial inclusion gender gap persistent at 8% – CBN

Financial inclusion gender gap persistent at 8% – CBN

The gender gap in financial inclusion in Nigeria remains persistent at eight percent, according to Aishah Ahmad, deputy governor at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

She disclosed this at the Making Savings Work for Women event, themed “savings mobilization” and its critical role in empowering women and men towards greater economic resilience.

The event which took place last week was organised by Women’s World Banking in partnership with the Lagos Business School.

“Savings mobilisation is seen as the entry-level into financial inclusion, which is why this event is highly important and valuable to the country’s financial inclusion agenda,” Ahmad said.

“Women save less than men. As at 2020, just 39 percent of women save in official financial institutions, compared to 51 percent of males.

“They are disproportionately represented in the informal economy, which may limit their bargaining power.” Women have less social safeguards and are more likely to be saddled with unpaid care and household chores, which forces them to leave the labour force.”

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She also said when women have access to income and earnings, they invest it in their businesses and families and when they have access to a bank account, they have a safe place to save for emergencies.

The Nigerian banker and finance professional said unlike men, who use formal financial services on a regular basis, research shows that women rely almost entirely on informal options such as voluntary savings and loan associations, money lenders, and age-old family and friends.

“Women’s reliance on informal financial systems makes it difficult for them to obtain financial products that these informal providers do not provide, such as insurance and loans.” As a result, their financial options to make significant investments, improve their livelihood, or even diversify their income portfolio are limited.

“A key financial inclusion goal that can help address many of our economic issues is ensuring that women have access to formal financial services such as transactions, payments, savings, credit, and insurance.”

She lauded Women’s World Banking and Lagos Business School for successfully replicating the savings mobilization solution targeted at low-income women in Nigeria similar to what was done in India and Uganda.

“I commend the four financial services providers through which the solution was deployed; Accion Microfinance Bank, Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank and Wema Bank, Ahmad said. “We look forward to more public and private partnerships as we work towards bridging the financial gender gap because winning is assured when we act together.”