The 17th Annual Global Banking Alliance for Women Summit was held on the banks of the Dead Sea in Jordan Nov. 13-15, hosted by Bank al Etihad. Bringing more than 160 attendees from 75 different organizations, the 2018 Summit boasted a wide variety of highly interactive sessions exploring the theme of “The Future of Financial Services for Women.”
Tazeen Hasan presented the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law research on barriers to women’s financial inclusion in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). She discussed the importance of access to identification cards and laws protecting women’s assets, the value of childcare services, and the various opportunities for improving women’s financial inclusion in the region.
Her presentation was followed by a panel discussion on “Policy Enablers that Tackle Women’s Life Cycle Needs,” moderated by Dr. Heike Harmgart, Regional Head of the Eastern Mediterranean Region, EBRD. Panelist included Dr. Sawsan Majali, Senator, Jordanian Senate, H.E. Dr. Maher Sheikh Hasan, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Jordan, Saad Andary, Vice Governor, Banque Du Liban and Muna Sukhtian, Managing Director, Microfund for Women, Jordan.
Key messages from Women, Business and the Law:
- Formal identification is key to economic participation globally. There are 11 economies around the world – including four in MENA – where women are required to complete at least one additional step to obtain an ID, compared to men.
- The World Bank has found that laws restricting women’s agency and mobility in any way can hinder their financial inclusion – gender gaps in account ownership are larger where women’s mobility is constrained.
- Seventy-five economies around the world limit women’s property rights in some way. This has a direct effect on financial access, including women’s ability to start a business.
- Where women are able to inherit property, they often feel pressure from family to waive their rights. In Jordan a woman cannot waive her property inheritance for three months. The same law was adopted in Pakistan.
- “Non-traditional” repayment history data can stand in for a credit history. 50 out of 189 economies surveyed do not have credit registries or credit bureaus, yet microfinance repayment, retail and utility data exists for many. In MENA, four economies’ credit bureaus request utility data, and seven request data from retailers.
- Non-discrimination laws in credit decisions are another key way to promote women’s financial inclusion.
- There are 15 economies in MENA where the government provides support for childcare, which has a positive impact on economies and creates jobs. The World Bank is looking to influence additional reform in this space.