Access to services and opportunities is overwhelmingly excluded for women, and targeted steps are required to achieve financial inclusion, said Governor Reza Baqir of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
Moderating a session on Tuesday entitled “Consultative Dialogue on SBP Equality Policy Banking,” he said that strategies to achieve financial inclusion had an implicit expectation that every person, both male and female, would be used as a driving force to achieve development goals.
A gender lens within the financial sector will be implemented by the forthcoming Banking on Equality Policy through defined pillars and a collection of concrete steps to bring a shift towards women-friendly business practises, he said.
Several focus group discussions with a large range of domestic stakeholders have been held in this respect.
The goal of the webinar was to learn from global leaders about gender-responsive policies and their experience of gender-based financial inclusion in a developing country such as Pakistan.
He appreciated the initiative taken by the SBP team, which defined the specific measures needed to resolve the gender gap through an intentional financial sector approach.
World Bank Global Gender Director Caren Grown demonstrated during the discussion that in reality, gender neutrality became an implicit gender inequality when women were overlooked. In that regard, she emphasised that for financial products and services, a gender lens should be applied.
Bank OCBC NISP Indonesia President Director Parwati Surjaudaja shared her bank’s work in Indonesia and spoke about what Pakistan could learn from the success of Jakarta in improving financial inclusion, given the increasing Islamic banking markets in both countries. Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking, reported that women-owned businesses have shown a change, especially in the retail sector in Pakistan.
World Bank South Asia Vice-President Hartwig Schafer and Asia-Pacific Vice-President Alfonso Garcia Mora of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) welcomed SBP’s efforts to enhance the financial inclusion of women and men in Pakistan.
The discussion encouraged the experts to share their gender mainstreaming experience and supported the consultative process of SBP’s gender policy. The webinar has been helpful in gathering clever input from relevant global gender policy and practise experts.
In line with this input, as well as feedback from Pakistani stakeholders, the policy will be revised and introduced in March 2021.