The State Bank of Pakistan is aiming to promote women’s economic empowerment through financial inclusion by launching a comprehensive Banking on Equality policy.
The gender disparity in the banking sector of Pakistan is no hidden secret. According to the latest statistics published in leading English newspapers, only 29 percent of women in the country have their own bank account, which is among the lowest in the world. For women in banking, things aren’t any better. The staff in banks across Pakistan only comprises 13 percent women. The situation is even worse in branchless banking, where only 1 percent of the agents are women.
Needless to say, the lack of diversity in the banking industry along with the financial inclusion gap between men and women significantly hamper the national economic growth and development.
Banking on Equality: A Step Towards Financial Inclusion of Women
In a bid to provide women with equal opportunities and financial services, the State Bank of Pakistan is reportedly working to introduce a new gender mainstreaming policy under its National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS). The policy, which has been duly named ‘Banking on Equality Policy: Reducing the Gender Gap in Financial Inclusion,’ will aim to build an inclusive financial system that serves both men and women equally.
“Women’s equal access to financial services is a key priority for a country like Pakistan whose female population of more than 100 million significantly lags behind men in terms of financial inclusion and contribution to economic activity,” the State Bank of Pakistan Governor Reza Baqir explained during an in-house event held to celebrate the International Women’s Day. “Although Pakistan has made some progress in terms of financial inclusion in recent years, a gaping gender divide remains in the country and without women’s active participation the social and economic potential of our country would remain constrained,” he added.
Baqir also pressed upon how promoting the financial inclusion of women is important for sustainable economic growth, adding that diminishing gender inequality can also improve socio-economic development outcomes for both the present and future generations.
“SBP is taking initiatives under its comprehensive national financial inclusion strategy to prioritise women’s financial inclusion and will soon be launching its path-breaking gender mainstreaming policy called ‘Banking on Equality,” Baqir elaborated.
Although it is still in the development stages, the Banking on Equality policy not only addresses the gender gap in financial inclusion but also aims to promote workforce diversity in the banking sector through its comprehensive strategy. The initiative prioritises the financial inclusion of women and Pakistan’s first instant digital payment system, Raast, to provide advanced digital solutions.
Furthermore, the State Bank of Pakistan will also promote financial literacy among women in rural and semi-urban areas. The central bank has also launched a credit guarantee and refinance scheme that offers 60 percent risk coverage and a zero percent refinance rate for small businesses run by women.
According to the leading media outlets, the proposed Banking on Equality policy identifies five key pillars targeted towards “improving institutional diversity, incorporating a gender lens for development and marketing of tailored bank products, modification of approaches towards women customers’ facilitation, collection of gender-disaggregated data, and prioritising a gender focus in the State Bank of Pakistan’s policies.”
To conclude, when it comes to the role of financial inclusion in driving women’s economic empowerment, no one can deny its importance. Therefore, the latest initiative undertaken by the central bank is definitely worth applauding.
On a side note, here are a few banking-related guides that you might find helpful.
- How to Open a Bank Account in Pakistan
- Best Banks For Overseas Pakistanis
- Top Banks Offering Home Financing Solutions in Pakistan
To learn more about the barriers to women’s financial inclusion and the importance of diversity in banking, stay tuned to Zameen Blog – the best real estate blog in Pakistan. You can also get in touch with us by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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