SBP wants dedicated desks for women at financial institutions

Published January 15, 2021
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has asked financial institutions to place dedicated desks to boost women customers and entrepreneurs’ trust in the banking system. ─ Wikimedia Commons/File
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has asked financial institutions to place dedicated desks to boost women customers and entrepreneurs’ trust in the banking system. ─ Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has asked financial institutions to place dedicated desks to boost women customers and entrepreneurs’ trust in the banking system.

Unveiling a policy proposal titled ‘Equality policy: reducing the gender gap in financial inclusion draft’, the SBP noted that banks are unable to facilitate women customers and recommended gender diversity training for staff at all customer points.

The draft policy includes feedback from selected national and international stakeholders including the Pakistan Banks’ Association, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, International Finance Corporation, Asian Development Bank (ADB), USAID, Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA), Karandaaz and other international organisations.

The policy note recommends financial institutions to place 15 per cent women ‘Champions’ at touch points in one year and 75pc women champions within three years at all touch points. The SBP said that it is important that needs of women customers are met with careful attention and towards this end, having gender diversity trained staff as champions at all customer touch points can improve women’s trust and confidence in financial institutions.

In this regard, the ADB’s Tool Kit on Gender Equality recommends women’s desks at banks to boost economic empowerment as seen in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, said the SBP. The move will help women customers and entrepreneurs get access to credit and savings products and non-financial advisory services from a dedicated contact point at banks.

“Financial institutions will be advised to ensure presence of women champions at all customer touch points at financial institutions, such as bank branches, call centers and alternate delivery channels which will aid women’s adoption of conventional and digital financial services,” said the SBP.

A bank representative, who has undergone gender sensitivity training can share details of current SBP and government schemes for women and serve as women champion.

“The financial institutions will place women champions in all of its branches in next 18 months staffed by existing human resources that have undergone gender sensitivity training,” said the SBP.

A Policy Forum on Gender and Finance will be established to discuss opportunities and challenges in women’s financial inclusion and review the existing policy framework for improvements, said the SBP.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2021

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