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What are the benefits on financially empowering women?

More than 80% of micro-finance industry’s clients are women.

Photo of Karine Sarkissian
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In many countries around the world, unfortunately, there exists important gender gaps, particularly with access to financial services for women. These inequalities are often emphasized by cultural factors, regulations, societal trends and norms- they restrict women’s ability to use financial services.

The diagram attached, shows the amount of adults with an account at a formal financial institution by gender. The largest gaps between male and female exist in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

The benefits of empowering women financially!

  • Micro-financing gives women easy access and direct benefits to increase business opportunities:

    -Thus increasing their bargaining power within the household

    -INDEPENDENCE

  • Gender inequality declines as poverty reduces:

    - Leading to GENDER EQUITY

-The MFI and other institutions have tried to cater more and more services for women. It has been said that women tend to be more credit conscious- they are more organized as a group, more likely to repay loans, and invest their returns to their family’s health and education.

Here is an example of a micro-finance in Lebanon with a focus on women.

Ibdaa is a micro-financing firm in Lebanon- they created the “Sayedati” (meaning Ms. in Arabic) criteria for women to take out loans. Their description is as follows.

“Sayedati”is a loan that targets women who are developing their micro/small business, or low-income women who wish to purchase assets for their house or family. The product is characterized by the simplicity of the required guarantees and speed of procedures which allows to grant the loan within three days of the application date, and with amounts matching the needs of the applicant”

Interesting trends have been noted about the importance for women to be empowered financially. Will they encourage a more considered use of their earnings? Can we encourage them to have more of an impact on bringing a community together? How can we use this challenge to also increase gender equity (without intentionally imposing our way of thinking-as outsiders- on a community)? Is it important to consider communities of women versus those of men? 


sources:

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY_-_Microfinance_and_womens_empowerment/$FILE/EY-The%20promise-of-microfinance-and-womens-empowerment.pdf

http://www.ibdaalebanon.com/

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Fantastic share and great provocations Karine! It's revealing to see that 80% of the micro-finance users are women - yet women still have significantly less bank accounts than men in most countries. This helps us understand that financial empowerment is tied to other social challenges in people's lives. We'd love to see how how this notion of gender equity can spark some ideas in the Idea Phase. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Photo of André Fernandes

Great to remember Karine the importance to include women, without that outside imposition to the community! Even Grameen Bank, a famous initiative of microcredit, is an example of women-centered approach, as Elsa posted on this idea: https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/research/interviews-of-some-grameen-bank-beneficiaries.

Maybe because of maternal instinct, women tend to be more concerned on collective issues, while men more individualistic and power-orientated. Maybe comprehend what are the main needs and dreams of local women is the keypoint to start any initiative, as Elsa exposed in the interviews she made.