Today, we are witnessing some promising approaches to gender-focused financial inclusion policies across the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI). Tanzania, for example, has made progress in closing the financial inclusion gender gap.
Although financial inclusion for women was not articulated as a clear and explicit policy goal in the country’s 2013 National Financial Inclusion Framework, in the last two years the framework has been evolving to support a more favorable financial environment for women.
Now, the framework better articulates women’s financial inclusion as a policy goal, which the country explicitly attributes to engagement in AFI-sponsored dialogue.
The regulatory framework for mobile money has been key to the success of the policy framework in Tanzania, and financial infrastructure has also fostered financial inclusion for women. As in other countries, the main challenge remains in expanding financial services to low-income women in rural areas.
Women’s Financial Inclusion in Tanzania: Barriers and Opportunities
On the supply side, the principle barriers to women’s financial inclusion are inappropriate services that do not meet client demand, and the high cost of financial services due to inefficiencies in delivery channels. Demand-side constraints include information asymmetries, lack of documentation, irregular income patterns, lower income than men and low financial literacy.
Structural and regulatory barriers identified during the development of Tanzania’s National Financial Inclusion Framework include stringent or lack of proportionate requirements for client on-boarding, lack of a regulatory framework for broad-based microfinance services, delays in rolling out a national ID system, lack of a legal framework allowing for quick contract enforcement in the event of default, stringent Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements, high security requirements for bank branches, and the absence of an explicit financial consumer protection framework.
Yet, there are opportunities to break through these barriers.
Two related opportunities that have been identified to advance women’s financial inclusion are digital financial services, and the development of new products and services of particular interest to women.
Tanzania has already made considerable progress in these areas and laid the groundwork for future opportunities.
A new case study of policy change to support women’s financial inclusion by AFI and Women’s World Banking examines the experience of Tanzania, particularly where there are promising approaches to gender-focused financial inclusion policies.
Seven high-impact policy areas to advance women’s financial inclusion include:
- Greater focus on the value proposition of women’s financial inclusion, with explicit policy objectives and quantitative targets, can lead to transparent, women-inclusive policies.
- Gender-disaggregated data collection and research set the stage for fine-tuning policy.
- Reforms in legal and regulatory frameworks can create space for innovation that supports greater financial inclusion for women.
- The development of financial infrastructure is critically important part of implementing sound policy.
- Refined and strengthened financial consumer protection regulation can address the concerns and issues of women clients, balancing protection with expanded outreach.
- Financial education and financial literacy programs for women are a critical investment to promote women’s financial inclusion.
- While beyond the scope of financial sector policy, legislation and regulations, addressing social norms that constrain women’s financial inclusion can have important repercussions for financial inclusion.
To further examine the gender gap in Tanzania, barriers and opportunities for the financial inclusion of the nation’s women, and lessons from Tanzania on effective policies, implementation and next steps, click here to download the case study.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Hughes is the Communications Manager at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. Follow him on Twitter at @chughes222.
Categories: Financial Inclusion Strategy