Around the world, women are being hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As the fallout from the pandemic deepens, so do the short and longer term effects on women’s empowerment. The insecurity and lack of social protection that characterize informal, temporary, unpaid labor put millions of women and their families at extreme risk: in many developing countries, most women in paid work were working informally – around 95 percent in Asia and 89 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This paper summarizes the range of practice across jurisdictions that have employed a combination of SDD (also known as tiered CDD), licensing of non-bank financial institutions, and digital identification to enroll unbanked individuals into financial accounts so that they could receive COVID-19-related relief cash transfers.
Financial institutions and governments have been working for years to leverage digitized G2P for women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment. COVID-19 has increased the stakes, as governments look to use G2P programs to strengthen women’s resilience. New research from Women’s World Banking offers insights on Indonesia’s PKH program, the country’s largest conditional cash transfer.
Globally, the expansion of social assistance is among the most common public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge of quickly determining who would be eligible for these transfers highlighted gaps in information about workers in the informal sector and their families and other vulnerable groups. This review of some early international experiences of scaling up social assistance in response to the pandemic reveals the importance of certain ‘assets’ such as a robust digital identification system and other key registries.
Around the world, cash transfer programs are being implemented by governments in response to COVID-19. Pakistan introduced the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program, which requires mobile phones and national IDs to register. Using data from the 2018 Financial Inclusion Insights survey, we estimate large gender gaps in mobile phone ownership and national ID possession, leaving women are at risk of being disproportionately excluded from the program. To address this, the government should ensure women are more purposefully targeted, perhaps by reserving more slots for women or prioritizing women’s registrations.