Gender smart innovation and digital transformation

During our panel discussion on Wednesday 16th March, it was encouraging to review some of the main opportunities presented by digital solutions and to discuss the impactful work that MicroLoan Foundation, CGAP, UN Women and FSD Zambia are doing to ensure women are not left behind.


Key takeaways

There is a significant opportunity to improve financial inclusion through digitalisation, and it is critical that solutions are developed with women’s needs in mind.

Online savings platforms, microinsurance and mobile money loan disbursements are key developments. Real-time data from these platforms create a pattern of transactions that can serve as collateral for larger loans instead of traditional asset collateral – unlocking significant opportunity.

Additional opportunities for women’s empowerment exist through the digitisation of identity cards, information sharing about weather systems and crops, and the ability to exchange messages with suppliers, to name a few.

Despite these opportunities, there is a sizable gender gap in access, skills, and opportunity between men and women in the digital space. Here are the main things that hinders access for women:

  • Women have less disposable income than men. Reducing data costs and subsidising the cost of mobile phones have been helpful in improving access for women. Transacting digitally comes at a financial cost but we encourage women to do an opportunity/cost analysis.
  • Social/gender norms, for example, women bear disproportionate caregiving responsibilities. We need to ensure digital solutions take this into account.
  • Behaviour on the ground is currently very cash based. We need all actors and all players to be part of the digital landscape.
  • Low rates of financial literacy and digital skills in women particularly. This can result in a lack of trust for digital solutions.

Education is an essential element in overcoming these barriers.  Knowledge hubs, educational meetings, and collaboration can facilitate improved access to digital solutions for women and unlock the significant opportunities that come with access.

With huge thanks to our attendees and to our panel of speakers moderated by Steve Mark, Chair of MicroLoan Foundation USA. The panel included Medha Wilson, Group CEO of MicroLoan Foundation, Tinashe Sande Gender Mainstreaming and Coordination Specialist at UN Women, Elizabeth Munee Kiamba, Financial Sector Analyst at CGAP and Charity Luchembe N Chikumbi, Director Policy and Digital Financial Services at FSD Zambia.

Published on: 22/03/2022

Share this...