The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, said it will eliminate the gender gap in financial inclusion by 2024 using its latest released framework for advancing women’s financial inclusion in Nigeria.
The framework, according to the apex bank, builds on the revised targets of the 2018 National Financial Inclusion Strategy, which aims at reducing the financially excluded adult population to 20 percent by the end of this year.
But the apex bank has said that the achievement of the goal was disrupted by the emergence of the Corona Virus Pandemic. According to Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFiNA) 2018 survey report, the gender gap in financial access is present across regions, income groups and age groups, indicating that there are systemic obstacles to women’s financial inclusion in Nigeria and women are still more likely than men to rely exclusively on informal financial services.
It stated: “While women in the North West and North East are most likely to be excluded, the highest relative gender gap is in the South West (23 percent for women and 14 percent for men).” The apex bank cited Demand-related barrier, supply related barrier, legal regulatory/supervisory barrier and financial and technical infrastructure barrier as key barriers to women financial inclusion in the country.
It, however, noted that the framework has set up eight strategies to enable the attainment of an equal gender financial inclusion by 2024. The CBN said: “The strategic imperatives are consistent with the priorities identified and adopted in the 2018 National Financial Inclusion Strategy, in addition, they take into account the December 2019 Assessment of Women’s Financial Inclusion in Nigeria.
“The Strategic imperatives are to implement a set of measures to support account opening by women on a large scale and in short term; Expand financial and digital literacy programs for low-income women in the context of specific financial behaviours and products; Expand delivery channels to serve women, customers, closer to home; Mandate development of systems of gender-disaggregated data collection to meet the needs of FSP’s, government and regulatory/supervisory authorities; “Complete and consolidate an enabling environment required to enhance the government financial inclusion agenda, integrating a gender lens; Develop financially sustainable products and delivery systems that respond to low-income women needs; “Promote, at the industry level, the expansion of DFS and fintech solutions aimed at improving women’s financial inclusion; and build a culture of women leadership and staffing in financial institutions and other key agencies.”
The regulator noted that a monitoring and evaluation plan will be adopted at the outset of the implementation of the framework, following the identification of specific activities (actions) under each strategic objective/ recommendation, classified as short, medium, or long-term actions.