• Access to financial services is critical to economic growth and poverty reduction.
• It is important to consider and appreciate how gender and social norms affect financial decisions.
• There is need to ensure that women have equal access to financial education and relevant financial training.
Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Zambia has stressed the need to work with financial institutions to develop gender responsive financial products and services.
Speaking during the dissemination of results of financial decision-making, Gender and Social Norms Study conducted in Eastern Province, Organization Chief Executive Officer Engwase Mwale said access to financial services is critical to economic growth and poverty reduction, hence it is important to consider and appreciate how gender and social norms affect other players in the financial market system.
Ms. Mwale noted that results of the 2020 Finscope survey revealed a 6 percentage point gender gap in formal inclusion, therefore the need to address gender disparities and work towards ensuring greater financial inclusion for all.
“Gender and social norms shape economic opportunities. We must ensure that women have equal access to financial education and relevant financial training and management towards enhanced financial literacy. We also need to work with financial institutions to develop gender responsive financial products and services.”
“Furthermore, it is imperative that we empower women to take control of their financial future. This means promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment at all levels of society, from the household to the workplace right up to the government. We need to encourage interventions that deliberately help create an atmosphere that enables women to participate in decision-making processes at a household level and in their communities,” Ms. Mwale stated.
She further observed that according to the gender audits conducted by Bank of Zambia and Pensions and Insurance Authority, the gender disparity is considerably greater as women and men do not have equal access to financial services due to social norms, therefore it is important to empower women to take control of their financial future.
Ms. Mwale added that results of the study can be used by different market players to influence policy and intervention design while regulators and financial service providers can use the results to influence policy development and eliminate some of the gender disparities.
“Additionally, the findings can contribute to enhancing technical knowledge base on gender and attract new partnerships for civil society organizations, donors, and academia,” she added.
Ms. Mwale was speaking in a speech read on her behalf by FSD Zambia Acting Director of Programs, Charity Chikumbi.
Meanwhile, Professor Abigail Barr, an author from University of Nottingham said according to findings of the study, husbands and wives are willing to sacrifice 18 percent of household level income to maintain individual control over income.
Ms. Barr further called for financial education programs that engage with both husbands and wives and incorporate discussions about social norms as well as normative opinions.