• Sunday, June 23, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Gender gap in account ownership widens in Nigeria, 4 others

Gender gap in account ownership widens in Nigeria, 4 others

Women in Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia were not able to use mobile money services in 2022 as a result of not owning mobile phones.

According to the report by GSM Association (GSMA), a non-profit industry organisation, the gender gap in mobile money account ownership widened over the past year primarily in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan due to mobile ownership among men growing at a faster pace than women’s.

“The gap tends to be higher among certain demographics. For instance, in eight of the nine countries surveyed, the gender gap in mobile money account ownership is greater among those living in rural areas,” it said.

It said men, and especially women, who live in rural areas, tend to experience the barriers to mobile money account ownership more acutely than their urban counterparts, including lower awareness, lack of a mobile phone, lower digital skills and more restrictive social norms.

A breakdown of the GSMA report shows that the gender gap in account ownership was the highest in Pakistan with 85 percent. India was 75 percent, Bangladesh (55 percent), Nigeria (51 percent), Indonesia (17 percent), Senegal (15 percent), Ghana (10 percent) and Kenya (two percent).

One of the main barriers to closing the gender gap is mobile phone ownership: increasing mobile phone ownership can improve mobile money adoption rates among women, authors of the GSM report said.

“Other steps to close the mobile money gender gap include increasing women’s digital skills and awareness of the benefits of mobile money, and tackling social norms and other barriers that are preventing women from using it,” they said.

A recent survey by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that 64.6 percent of Nigerian women between the ages of 15-49 don’t own bank accounts while 35.4 percent have.

This shows that the percentage of women who own bank accounts is 11.8 percentage points lower than the 47.2 percent of men who own bank accounts.

Read also: NIN registrations surge 439% in one year

“We need to think about the inconsistencies of women in Northern Nigeria and also the young people because they represent the groups that are most financially excluded in the society,” Isaiah Owolabi, chief executive officer at Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access said.

He said the country needs to consider how they can accelerate digital financial inclusion and leverage data, which his company has been doing since 2008 to inform key decision policy actions across different sectors.

On the reasons for not owning bank accounts, 14.2 percent of women said banks are not available in their locality, 5.7 percent said it costs too much to reach the nearest bank, 58.6 cited unstable incomes and 22.8 percent cited unemployment or lost jobs.

Others are lack of trust in banks, religious reasons, time-wasting because of documentation, no benefit in having a bank account and no reasons at all.

Bunmi Lawson, managing director at EdFin Microfinance Bank, said there is an urgent need to drive financial and economic inclusion in Nigeria, especially among women.

“Beyond financial inclusion, we must equally prioritise economic inclusion, as one cannot exist without the other. Efforts must be made to address the major drivers of financial exclusion such as lack of income and economic capabilities, lack of education, and low trust in financial service providers,” she said.