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International Women’s Day: Reshaping the Financial Landscape for ‘Her’

GABV

7 March 2024

Empowering women with education and financial independence benefits entire communities. Value-based banks are leading the way toward gender equality in finance by reshaping the financial landscape by fostering gender equality and inclusivity.

When women have access to learning and earning their own income, entire communities thrive. No matter the place. In finance, women face several challenges, including the 300 billion US dollar gender credit gap worldwide, an elusive glass ceiling, overlapping responsibilities, insufficient financial literacy, and a lack of female mentors.

However, there is a clear way forward: the way of value-based banks. Ingrained in their reason of being, value-based financial institutions take daily bold steps to reshape the finance landscape, fostering gender equality and inclusivity. In line with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day (IDW), ’Count Her In’, GABV members not only address the gender pay gap, but also create initiatives to encourage women to invest and provide access to capital that may have been previously out of reach.

In celebration of IWD, we want to share some of the many contributions of GABV’s members towards gender equality and the strengthening of institutions and financing with a gender perspective. 

In Bangladesh, BRAC Bank has put into action TARA (which means Star), a banking service for women across all age groups. Since its launch, in May 2017, TARA has provided a gateway to the use of various financial services.

“TARA has transformed how women approach banking, manage their finances, and achieve their life goals. TARA guides women for better financial planning, economic freedom, and realising their aspirations,” Selim R. F. Hussain, CEO of BRAC Bank.

The launch of BRAC Bank’s TARA Programme

Despite being more educated and skilled than ever, women still find themselves disproportionately engaged in insecure, informal, or low-wage jobs and frequently receive unequal pay for comparable work. In Germany, women earn 18% less per hour than men. However, at GLS Bank (Germany) the gender pay gap is shrinking. As of December 31, 2023, the unadjusted gender pay gap (GPG) was 7.3%, compared to 11.8% in 2022. 

Equal Pay Day at GLS Bank

In the Dominican Republic, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Banfondesa have a €10 million agreement to support microenterprises. With a 50% female participation in the credits, this financing programme reaches out to women leading micro-enterprises, self-employed businesswomen, and urban and rural ventures whose employees are predominantly women.

Cristian Reyna, Executive President of Banfondesa, stated that “there will be an increase in loan disbursements to female entrepreneurs and in remote rural areas of the country where access to banks is limited.” 

Banfondesa’s self-employed client Lourdes

The significance of women’s economic empowerment transcends finance and plays a key role in advancing women’s rights and achieving gender equality globally. Another GABV member, Opportunity International Savings and Loans Ghana, teaches female participants about financial literacy, digital financial services, gender equity, reproductive and maternal health, family life and domestic violence. They also train women in practical skills to help them develop stable livelihoods, generate income and save for a more secure future. 

Opportunity Internationals Kayayei programme aimed to equip young female head porters with entrepreneurial and life skills

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a private sector loan of $25 million with Credo Bank (Georgia) to support food security and inclusive finance in Georgia by targeting borrowers, including women, in agricultural production, processing, and trade. This will promote domestic food production, reduce rural-urban income inequalities, increase the portfolio of agriculture sector loans, and enhance access to loans for women farmers and women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (WMSMEs). 

ADB, Credo Sign Deal to Promote Food Security and Women-Owned Agriculture MSMEs in Georgia

Through the Equity in Money initiative, Summit Credit Union, in Madison (Wisconsin, USA), includes financial wellness programmes, building women’s wealth, a pay equity dashboard, and loan programmes and scholarships for women.

The pay gap makes it more difficult for women to save and can also create higher debt, which can lead to poverty for women, especially in retirement. Summit is committed to ensuring fair pay for similar work for all our colleagues while recognising performance and experience levels,” Summit Credit Union’s CEO and President, Kim Sponem. 

While we still have a long way before we can say “mission accomplished” on equality, especially in the financial world, the positive strides from GABV members offer a ray of hope. These inspiring examples are proof of the different steps we can take until we get there.

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