They made the call on Friday during the MasterCard Foundation’s 4th symposium on Financial Inclusion in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
The meeting, which concluded on Friday, focused on enhancing financial sector performance globally, particularly in developing countries. More than 300 participants from across Africa and beyond attended the meeting.
“Women disproportionately face financial access barriers that prevent them from participating in the economy and from improving their lives,” said Dr. Jennifer Riria, group chief executive of Kenya Women Holding Company.
She added that strong commitment is needed among African governments to promote financial inclusion for women to help achieve gender equity and poverty reduction.
According to Monique Nsanzabaganwa, deputy governor at National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), despite increased access to and use of financial services in Africa, barriers to financial inclusion remain among women.
“How do we tell if a loan went to a woman or to a family? This is a big issue! Women opt out of financial woes to keep peace in the family,” she noted.
Nsanzabaganwa stated that women entrepreneurs and employers face significantly greater challenges than men in gaining access to financial services.
Experts at the meeting argued that investing in women should be a shared priority across public and private sector stakeholders given the economic and civic implications of female participation in the formal financial ecosystem.
“Financial inclusion is essential to improving the livelihoods of people living in underserved communities, and for advancing a country’s overall economic growth and prosperity,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation.
The 2015 World Bank’s global financial-inclusion report indicates that while 700 million adults around the world became first-time bank-account holders over the past three years, increasing the access to formal financial institutions, women still lagged behind. China and India accounted for roughly half of the increase, with 355 million new account holders.
The report showed that 58 percent of women globally banked in 2014, compared with 65 percent of men. The study found that 1.1 billion women still have no access or never use the financial system. Enditem