KARACHI: Only 29 per cent of women in Pakistan have a bank account, among the lowest in the world, and this disparity severely impedes national economic development, said State Bank of Pakistan Governor Dr Reza Baqir on Monday.
The governor said that promoting equal opportunities for women and men for accessing and pursuing financial and professional endeavours is critical for sustainable and inclusive economic growth in any country.
“Improved gender parity in financial and economic opportunities can enhance socioeconomic development outcomes not just for the present but also for future generations,” he said while speaking at an event held at SBP headquarters to commemorate International Women’s Day.
He said that incorporating a gender perspective in existing policies and industry practices is imperative to build an inclusive financial system that serves both women and men equally.
In addition to promoting financial literacy in women segments in rural and peri-urban areas, SBP has launched a Credit Guarantee and Refinance Scheme, which offers a zero per cent refinance rate and 60pc risk coverage for small businesses run by women entrepreneurs.
He said that SBP is also working on a path-breaking gender mainstreaming policy called Banking on Equality, in consultation with other stakeholders to reduce the gender gap in financial inclusion.
The goal of the proposed policy is to engender equality in banking and reduce the gender gap in financial inclusion. The proposed policy identifies five key pillars under which actions are targeted towards improving institutional diversity, incorporating a gender lens for development and marketing of tailored bank products, modification of approaches towards women customers’ facilitation, collection of gender-disaggregated data, and prioritising a gender focus in SBP’s policies.
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2021