> Posted by Amanda Lotz, Financial Inclusion 2020 Consultant, CFI

Tomorrow, people around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day. In honor of the day, and the tremendous impact that financial services can have for women, we’d like to highlight some of the top resources from the past year that focus on financial inclusion of women. Though there are many great resources out there, below are a few that have caught our attention.

1. Findex Notes: Women and Financial Inclusion

Drawing from the Global Findex Database, the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation created a briefing on the state of women’s access to and use of financial services globally. It’s a concise snapshot of financial inclusion data on women. It highlights gaps that persist for women, as compared to men, globally and across regions. It looks at variations in account ownership for savings and credit, as well as barriers to usage identified by women. And if you’re looking for more, I suggest exploring the Findex database or the CFI Data Explorer and conducting your own analyses!

2. Promoting Women’s Financial Inclusion: A Toolkit

DFID and GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development prepared a toolkit aimed at policymakers, donors, and NGOs who want to learn how to design and implement programs to enhance the financial inclusion of women. It provides insight into factors that contribute to financial exclusion of women and offers recommendations to address access barriers. In addition, the toolkit provides methods for client segmentation as well as several illustrative case studies. Rather than suggesting focusing on women exclusively, the toolkit also recommends understanding the distinct needs of men.

3. Ready for Growth: Solutions to Increase Access to Finance for Women-Owned Businesses in the Middle East and North Africa

Vital Voices, MENA Businesswomen’s Network, and the IFC partnered on a report that explores solutions to increase access to finance for women in the Middle East and North Africa. Drawing from an in-depth survey of over 430 women from eight countries in MENA, the report reveals that many women face barriers in accessing finance (41 percent of those surveyed), citing high interest rates (67 percent) and lack of collateral (36 percent) as the main obstacles. In addition, many of the surveyed women expressed high demand for greater access to information and training to grow their businesses. With this expansion, access to financial services will be vital. Along with insightful data, the report includes recommendations on improving access to finance, developing tailored products, and overcoming barriers that women face.

4. Women and Financial Literacy: OECD/INFE Evidence, Survey and Policy Responses

In a report released mid last year, the OECD International Network on Financial Education (INFE) discusses data that illustrates gender differences in financial literacy levels. The findings indicate that in many countries women are less financially literate as well as less confident in their abilities than men. Additionally, the report explains the consequences of low financial literacy levels and points to potential explanations for why gender differences may exist, such as the effects of differing test formats or the influence of social networks. In response to the prevailing gap, the report considers ways to address barriers that women may face, drawing from existing policies and initiatives targeted at the needs of women and girls.

5. Unlocking the Potential: Women and Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets

Visa, GSMA’s mWomen, and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) have prepared a report that looks at how best to design mobile financial services, based upon data collected by BFA in Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania. The report illustrates preferences and barriers to access, gleaned through interviews with women at the base of the pyramid. To share a few insights, 63 percent of women in Tanzania perceived savings groups as reliable and secure, while 86 percent of women in the country who use formal institutions for savings find them to be reliable and secure. For many of the services that women often use, mobile financial services can increase security and simplify processes. This is true for payments women typically make (utilities, school expenses), money transfers and remittances, and government-to-person-payments.

BONUS! We tried to stay with 5, but couldn’t resist highlighting another resource that we covered in an earlier post by Jaclyn Berfond.

Gender Performance Indicators: How Well Are We Serving Women?

Have you been searching for a vetted framework for tracking and measuring institutional gender performance? Building on the work of the social performance community, Women’s World Banking (WWB) created an analytic framework of gender performance indicators, organized around three themes: Client-Centric Focus, Institutional Focus, and Financial and Social Outcomes. To support the development of these indicators, WWB piloted them with three microfinance institutions: Ujjivan Financial Services in India; Finance Trust in Uganda; and Fundación Delamujer in Colombia. Each indicator is ranked based upon its expected degree of complexity to implement, identifies responsible actors, and has corresponding data from the pilot organizations. Providers, take note. This is the best resource out there for measuring gender performance. And don’t forget to disaggregate any collected data!

What were your favorite resources of 2013, centered on financial inclusion of women?

Have you read?

International Women’s Day 2013: Where Are We With Women’s Access to Financial Services

Congratulations, It’s International Women’s Day!

Women and Microfinance: What’s There to Celebrate Today?