By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2022-08-05
The Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, has revealed that many women still face barriers to accessing financial services.
The minister disclosed this during the launch of the Eswatini Gender Inclusive Finance Roadmap held at Happy Valley Hotel yesterday.
The roadmap is the outcome of the collaboration of the ministry of finance, the Centre for Financial Inclusion, Central Bank of Eswatini and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority. It looks at the current position of women’s financial inclusion in the country.
The minister said the headline figure showed that three per cent more women were financially included than men. He added that, however, when one looked underneath the headline many women faced barriers to accessing and opening an account, accessing credit for their businesses and having the income levels and financial literacy needed to safely and effectively use a wide range of financial products and services.
“While we have closed the gender gap in Eswatini it is important to understand the key supply and demand side barriers with a view to unpacking further, the perceived legal obstacles to address the challenges that women can face with restrictive social norms and some customary practices that still prevent them from accessing and using financial services and products,” the minister said.
He explained that it was imperative that as Emaswati they pay special attention to the gender dimensions of access, usage and quality of financial services, so they would be better able to achieve the country’s aim of full financial inclusion.
“Against this backdrop, we recognise that proactive strategies to consider women’s financial inclusion will better inform and enhance our policy objectives. It will also support a global commitment to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
“Hence the development of this Gender Inclusive Finance Roadmap.” he stated.
He went on to state that in the country, women constituted about 51per cent of the population. The minister pointed out that undoubtedly no meaningful or impactful development could take place if the significant segment (women) was excluded. The minister said this portrayed the correct picture of Eswatini where women were more than half of the constituencies, half of the market base, and half of the force driving the economy.
“We are very aware that women tend to invest and save more in the welfare of their families,” the minister said.
According to Rijkenberg, more can be done to enhance the level of economic empowerment by the roadmap which was launched yesterday. He said the imbalance in accessing resources had enormous economic consequences. Statistics shared by the minister indicate that it is estimated that if women’s participation in the economy is equal to men’s, the annual global GDP will increase by 28 trillion dollars by 2025 resulting in a 26 per cent increase in global GDP.
Central Bank of Eswatini Deputy Governor Felicia Dlamini-Kunene won the other hand, said the launch was a clear indication of the commitment and pledge as a nation in ensuring that the country developed and maintained a stable financial system that is all inclusive.
“This we will do by guaranteeing that women and the youth are availed equitable opportunities to engage in financial activities,” she stated.
She explained that the Center For Financial Inclusion CEO shared with them the Global Findex Database results for June 2022, which show significant progress made towards bridging the gender gap in financial inclusion.
The deputy governor said to increase the number of women getting quality and affordable financial services in Eswatini, goals of financial access, usage and quality must be pursued simultaneously.
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