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Dhaka Tribune

CRD holds conference on financial inclusion in Bangladesh

Gender gap in financial inclusion in Bangladesh stands at 6.90 percentage points in favor of men

Update : 09 Mar 2024, 04:21 PM

A daylong conference was held titled "Financial Inclusion in Bangladesh: Gender Perspectives" on March 6, organized by Centre for Research and Development (CRD), an independent research organization.

This was primarily a research finding sharing conference, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USA.

The research was conducted by a research team, led by Prof Ayesha Banu, of Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka, Lila Rashid, former executive director, Bangladesh Bank, Prof Sayema Haque Bidisha, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka and Md Mokhlesur Rahman, managing director, CRD. 

Dr. Atiur Rahman, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, served as chief guest in the inaugural session, and the conference concluded with Mustafa K. Mujeri, executive director of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM), as the chief guest for the concluding session.

The session was attended by Hillary Miller-Wise, deputy director, Inclusive Financial Systems; Lynn Eisenhart, deputy director, Strategic Investment Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and representatives from the foundation.

During the second session, findings from a two-and-a-half-year research project on the gender gap in financial inclusion in Bangladesh were presented.

The session was moderated by Snigdha Ali, Bangladesh country lead, Inclusive Financial Systems, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The quantitative data shows that the gender gap in financial inclusion in Bangladesh stands at 6.90 percentage points in favor of men where the gender gap is highest in MFS at 35.42 points and in the case of banking services the gap is 17.28 points (in favor of men).

On the other hand, in microfinance gender gas is 56.37 percentage point in favor of women.

A more detailed analysis shows that not only a higher proportion of women are financially excluded, but also that women account for a smaller proportion in the ‘high inclusion’ category – a category having banking services which are more formalized and offer most of the financial services.

Additionally, there is also a clear difference in the use of services among men and women.

In the second half of the conference at the plenary session, experts shared experiences on financial inclusion. 

The study recommended a wide range of initiatives including the availability of data and women’s access to a digital device, having gender friendly business environment at bank branches and gender-friendly terms in case of loans and other services, formulation of a detailed action plan to reduce the gender gap, extending and effectively implementing fiscal incentives to small women entrepreneurs, emphasizing capacity building trainings addressing awareness and skills for financial and digital literacy, sustained campaigns and advocacy to raise awareness etc.

The concluding session was chaired by Mustafa K Mujeri and participated by Md. Fasiullah, executive vice chairman, Microcredit Regulatory Authority; Bibi Russell, Founder of Bibi Productions; and Maria Alexandra May, senior program officer, Digital Financial Services, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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