Barriers in Financial Inclusion
Often in developing countries, a woman is not traditionally seen playing a big role either in entrepreneurship or in major financial activities, owing to societal stereotypes. This creates a barrier to her having access to financial and physical capital. Generally, women in these countries do not own physical capital and if one looks at surveys, we see that only very small few percent of women own houses independently and a very low percentage own any sort of agricultural land.
Also, poverty on its own is not a single factor or condition but collectively creates a lack of financial assets, a lack of access to any property and eventually a lack of a voice in their community. Globally, poverty affects 63% of women as compared to men, yet they physically labor three times more without being paid, which includes housework, assisting their men in fields and other works.
On the flip side , a woman has immense potential to generate, save, spend their own money. They not only can make a profit for themselves but also for the communities of which they are part. According to the latest reports of McKinsey Global Institute “if women are fully integrated into the world economy it would add $12 Trillion to global GDP by 2025” in a nutshell removing gender financial inequality will lift all emerging and poor countries.
It is now imperative for all the government organizations, financial companies and global charity foundations to start helping women to explore their powers to generate income by facilitating them digital financial services.
Financial Inclusion through Digital Financial Services
In the developing world, 40% of women do not have any financial accounts. Whereas, more than billion-plus women lack access to any formal financial services globally. Digital Financial Services, like mobile banking, mobile money, mobile wallets, mobile remittances & micro ATM solutions developed by Estel Technologies can help a small scale, micro-businesses owned by women entrepreneurs grow far more efficiently than a branch-based, traditional banking.
In some of the African countries’, some professionals have to travel more than 8 hours to collect their cash earnings. Solutions like Micro ATM can help in sending, receiving money using mobile phones, and without the use of conventional financial tools like cheque, debit cards, etc. Thus, saving a lot of working hours for these professionals, laborers are directly proportional to adding more money to their income by working more and enjoying quality time with their families.
In some of the emerging economies like Bangladesh, Philippines, etc. women workers handover their daily wages to husbands / fathers, thus, having no say in how the money needs to be spent or saved. Digitalizing the whole process is still a work that needs to be done in such countries and if the women are empowered with an option to have their digital account where they can save and use the same to spend will surely boost the overall economy of their respective countries.
We believe that while everyone must have equal access to education, food & human rights, but now women must also be given equal opportunity towards financial freedom. Women of today needn’t walk 20 km daily to collect her paycheck, she mustn’t be devoid of having a bank account. Today, if we work towards the financial inclusion of women it may be a small step but will empower a poor woman to think about herself, about her social status and equal access to all the opportunities that a male member of a family gets.
Surajit has more than 25 years of experience in Mobile Financial Services and Telecom Technologies and Products. He is an avid lover of French cuisine and loves to blog about Mobile Technologies and the history of telecom in India.