SBP launches consultation process to enhance financial inclusion of women

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The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has adopted a medium-term national target of 20 million active women bank accounts by 2023 under the National Financial Inclusion Strategy.

On Monday, the State Bank of Pakistan launched a national dialogue on its forthcoming policy in order to reduce the gender gap in financial inclusion to address one of the key challenges hindering economic growth of the country to its full potential.

Dr. Reza Baqir, SBP’s governor hosted a webinar titled “Launch of Consultation on Banking on Equality policy: Reducing the Gender Gap in Financial Inclusion” said an SBP statement.

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The SBP webinar featured an exclusive panel discussion around financial inclusion of women with international thought leaders in the area of gender and finance including Director Aga Khan Development Network, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Director of Strategy, Policy and Review Department, International Monetary Fund, Ms. Ceyla Pazarbasioglu and SBP Governor Dr. Reza Baqir. President of Gender Equality at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Anita Zaidir moderated the discussion.

Women’s access to financial and economic opportunities is essential for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. However, women in Pakistan are disproportionately under-served by the financial system. Only 18% percent of adult women in Pakistan have an active bank account compared with 51% of men.

The SBP said currently only 13 percent of the staff of banks and 1 percent of branchless banking agents are women. “Financial institutions shall be asked to develop policies to improve gender diversity and ensure minimum 20 percent female participation in the work force by 2023,” said the SBP.

Moreover, the proposed policy identifies five key pillars under which actions are targeted towards improving institutional diversity, product diversification and development capability, customer acquisition and facilitation approaches towards women segments, collection of gender disaggregated data, and prioritizing gender focus in SBP’s policies.

SBP Governor, Dr. Reza Baqir said, “The first objective was to bring attention to the shared goal of reducing the gender gap in women’s financial inclusion. The second goal was to share the content of the Banking on Equality policy that was being launched for consultation. Finally, the third goal was to get feedback from stakeholders on the policy itself.”

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