The financial exclusion of women and youth is a weighty topic that several countries and institutions are working to address, but this will require a collective response from governments (policymakers and regulators), financial service providers, and development agencies.
Access, Usage, Quality, and Welfare
These stakeholders will have to address problems relating to access, usage, quality, and welfare if they are to achieve financial inclusion, particularly for the most vulnerable, especially women and youth. Key among these issues are cumbersome requirements and processes for opening accounts, a lack of rules and infrastructure critical to lowering or eliminating barriers to the entry of marginalized groups into the financial system, and an absent or nascent regulatory framework and digital infrastructure for connectivity and interoperability required for ensuring the growth and sustenance of an inclusive financial environment.
Promoting Women and Youth Financial Inclusion
The study “Promoting Women and Youth Financial Inclusion for Entrepreneurship and Job Creation” was conducted in 2018-2019 and sought to assess the effectiveness of financial sector initiatives in advancing women and youth financial inclusion in the three countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Zambia, supported by a grant from the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
This Synthesis report provides a comparative analysis of the findings from the three focus countries and synthesizes the overarching issues common to all three countries, identifying useful policy and regulatory lessons and solutions and making recommendations for implementation by the various stakeholders.
One important recommendation of the study is the need to address gaps in digital infrastructure, which is crucial for improved access for the vulnerable groups, including women and youth. “Telecommunications regulatory bodies in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Zambia should review the pricing of key delivery channels to strengthen the business case for serving special interest groups such as women and youth who tend to be excluded because of high channel costs,” the study recommends.