A recent 2022 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) has revealed that Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Kaduna, Jigawa and Niger are the top Nigerian states where women don’t own bank accounts.
The survey carried out in 2021 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) as part of the Global MICS Programme, shows that out of the 38,806 women surveyed between the ages of 15-49, 64.6 percent don’t own bank accounts in Africa’s biggest economy 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 hold bank accounts.
“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 (EFInA) 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.
The NBS survey revealed that out of the 13,721 women that own bank accounts, Lagos had the most, followed by Anambra, Imo, Enugu and Edo. “Financial inclusion has been described to be an enabler of seven of the SDG, and a vital tool for reducing poverty and boosting prosperity,” it said.
“It helps to reduce the rate of poverty, generates employment, creates wealth, improves general welfare and standard of living, and drives overall economic growth,” it added.
According to EFInA, Nigeria’s financial inclusion rate grew to 64.1 percent in 2020 from 63.2 percent in 2018. The 2020 figure is below the Central Bank of Nigeria’s 80 percent financial inclusion target for the year 2020.
The latest State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money by the GSM Association cited that there is still a gender gap in account ownership that has recently widened in countries such as Nigeria and Pakistan.
“One of the main barriers to closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership: increasing mobile phone ownership can improve mobile money adoption rates among women,” it 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.
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.