KARACHI: Pakistan holds an estimated $652 million in annual revenue potential in the women’s financial services market, according to data shared at a roundtable held recently. However, this remains untapped due to poor policies and a culture of gender inequality towards women’s financial empowerment.

At a virtual media roundtable held on Thursday, findings from a diagnostic report from six countries on the Women’s Financial Inclusion Data Partnership showed an untapped market for women’s financial services of up to $800 million.

The virtual roundtable, titled ‘Women’s Market opportunity as a result of financial inclusion’, had speakers including Leora Klapper from the World Bank, Mayra Buvinic from Data2X and Anna Gincherman from CCX. The event was moderated by Dilly Severin.

The event discussed a three-year gender data project in six countries, including Bangladesh, Honduras, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey; all these countries were chosen as they are committed to making progress in women’s financial inclusion and could serve as replication models for other countries.

Pakistan lauded for use of digital IDs to provide social protection benefits to women.

Pakistan was highlighted as a positive example where it was easier for women to use financial services when they’re available. The use of digital IDs, which were used by the government during the peak Covid-19 pandemic to provide social protection benefits under Ehsaas, was lauded at the event.

It was highlighted that the estimated gender gap in access to formal financial services by 2030 will increase to 32pc, the highest among the six countries, followed by Turkey at 22pc, Bangladesh and Honduras at 16pc each, and Nigeria at 7pc. Only Kenya is expected to see a 1pc decrease.

On the occasion, Inez Murray, the CEO of Financial Alliance for Women, said they did a piece of research in 2014 with Mckenzie that interviewed 30 CEOs of banks that represented 20pc of global banking assets and essentially characterised the findings in one [line] — “There is a lack of awareness that there is a women’s market and that, in fact, men and women are different when it comes to accessing and using financial services.”

To effectively fill gender data gaps and create a better enabling environment, champions from within the finance sector, particularly among regulators and at the highest levels of government, must act now.

Data2X findings showed that only 50pc of gender indicators from the SDGs are available with sex-disaggregated data. Almost 33pc of potential gender data indicators from the SDGs are entirely unavailable. It further said that to build and sustain core gender data systems, an additional $500 million from donors is needed every year from now through 2030.

Findex research showed that worldwide account ownership has reached 76pc of the global population — and 71pc of people in developing countries.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2022

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