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Here’re CBN’S findings on why women are most financially excluded

Low income, education and low trust in financial service provider are the key findings that undermined women’s access to financial services, a recent survey by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revealed.

The apex bank disclosed the findings in its 2019 second quarter Financial Inclusion Newsletter where it stated that the “survey recommended that efforts should be made to advance education and income levels of women and create awareness on products and providers.”

The Survey on assess of Women’s Financial Inclusion in Nigeria was sponsored by the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFINA) and conducted by Dalberg Global Development Advisors and was presented at the 8th National Financial Inclusion Steering Committee meeting.

Nigeria has 36.8 percent of its adult population excluded from the financial cycle; this translates to 36.6 million people who do not have access to financial products and services as at December 2018.

According to data by EFIna as analysed by BusinessDay, 44.1 percent of the total excluded adult population in Africa’s most populous nation are men while 55.9 percent are women, this leaves the gender gap at 11.8 percentage points.

Also, the 2017 figures from the World Bank’s global Findex database revealed that the financial exclusion gap in Nigeria widened by 24 percentage points in the review year.

According to the report, 51 percent of Nigerian men had bank accounts in 2017 compared to the 27 percent reported for women. The gender gap was 4 percentage points wider when compared to the 20 percent gap that was reported in 2014 when the number of men with bank accounts stood at 54 percent while women were at 34 percent.

Meanwhile the Central bank remains optimistic about achieving 80 percent financial inclusion rate by the year 2020.

But with less than 5 months to the projected deadline, the apex bank has 16.8 percent gap to bridge for it to achieve the set 20 percent exclusion target by next year.

According to the World Bank study of 2017, men remain more likely than women to have an account. The Washington- based lender said, “while account ownership has surged in some economies, progress has been slower elsewhere, often held back by large disparities between men and women and between the rich and poor.”

As part of its efforts to promote financial inclusion and facilitate the emergence of an all-inclusive and growth promoting financial system in Nigeria, EFINA’S 2019 and tenth Agent Network Breakfast Series meeting which held recently in Lagos focused on the topic ‘Assessment of Female Financial Service Agents in Driving Financial Inclusion in Nigeria’.

The Agent Network Breakfast Series is a platform organised to provide credible market information to stakeholders; discuss obstacles to the deployment of ubiquitous agent networks in Nigeria, highlight regulatory obstacles and opportunities to move the industry to the next level.

Survey has shown that Agent Network is importance in driving access to financial services, especially at the last mile. In order to drive the deployment of widespread agent networks in Nigeria and close the gender gap in financial access, there is therefore need to encourage more participation of women in agent banking, EFINA has said.

Studies have also shown that enlisting female agents may be the most effective way to overcome low literacy rate amongst the last mile across the country and build women’s confidence and trust in using financial services, EFINA revealed.

Henry Chukwu, Programme Specialist at Agent Networks noted that women participation in Agency business is one of the ways to reduce gender gaps in financial access. His presentation was followed by that of IDEO.ORG, an organisation that practices human-centered design, to solve problems and improve the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities.

The CEO OF EFINA, Esaie Diei closed the event with an remark as he said EFINA will be willing to support stakeholders in the process of developing and implementing their strategy for female agents “whilst encouraging stakeholders to implement the lessons learned and develop strategy for female agent at organisational level.”

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