Gender Action Mainstreaming for Empowerment to Change

financial services

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GAMEchange partners are advocating for a Gender Justice Protocol for financial services to promote:

an inclusive financial sector where gender justice is mainstreamed in all financial institutions from banks through to community managed funds and these institutions work together to promote gender justice and support empowerment of clients.

This includes development of:

  • Financial Action Learning System to develop empowering products and services
  • Community-led gender indicators for Social Performance Management
  • Participatory gender audit for organisational mainstreaming
  • Gender guidelines for consumer protection and regulatory frameworks
  • Capacity building and advocacy resources for financial institutions, their clients and funders

Why gender mainstreaming? gender justice case

Financial services have proven potential to initiate a series of ‘virtuous spirals’ of economic empowerment, increased well-being for women and their families and wider social and political empowerment. Financial services can enable men to provide for their families and work with women on an equal basis for household welath creation. Although no ‘magic bullet’, theycan be a significant contribution to equitable development and civil society strengthening.

BUT actual contribution to empowerment is often limited:

  • Credit is also debt. Savings, loan interest and insurance premiums are potentially foregone investment in businesses, children's education and health or necessary consumption.
  • In many cases women continue to earn very low incomes in increasingly saturated markets.
  • Women's access to even these very small incomes may lead to men withdrawing their contribution to household expenses.
  • Group formation for debt repayment takes up women's precious time and does not necessarily lead to changes in women's status.

See more on evidence of gender justice contribution

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Why gender mainstreaming? business case

FSPs have a choice - there are many strategies which can be both profitable and promote gender justice,and bringing about changes which benefit men as well as women:

  • Women are a very large underserved potential market. Women not a minority but a marginalised majority in most countries
  • Women have proved to be better savers and also loan repayers than men in many contexts.
  • Empowered women are able to use and pay for more profitable products
  • Failure to challenge destructive aspects of 'masculine' behaviour and support men's responsibility for household wellbeing entails serious risks for FSPs.
  • Gender diversity on boards of companies leads to better management decisions
  • Promotion of empowerment and wealth creation of clients (women as well as men) is good for brand image, particularly in the current environment of mistrust and scepticism about the financial sector

BUT gender issues, and specifically women's empowerment, continue to be marginalised in design of services in most FSPs. Gender-blind short-term strategies promoted for commercial profitability further marginalise women, exacerbate negative impacts of debt and undermine contribution to wealth creation and development.

See more on strategies for sustainability and commercial profitability.

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WEMAN Gender Justice Protocol

There are many possible strategies to increase gender equality and women's empowerment can be increased. Many of these can be financially sustainable and even profitable. The precise forms gender policy should take will depend on the particular service model, the particular client market and the context in which FSPs and clients operate. However gender policy does need to go further than a few 'female products' and a bit of gender training or addition of health and literacy programmes for women.

GAMEchange Network is therefore advocating for a Gender Justice Protocol to promote:

GAMEchange Network partners are active members of the MicroCredit Summit campaign and other micro-finance networks.

Text of the gender justice protocol 2011

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