Evidence OF Digital Financial Services Impacting Women’s Economic Empowerment

The use of digital financial services (DFS) is growing rapidly and digitization renders formal finance increasingly accessible to many of those that remain unbanked. To the extent that growth in DFS and mobile money, in particular, can be harnessed to reduce gender disparities in access to finance and advance women’s economic empowerment (WEE) within their households and local economies, the growth of DFS offers great promise for advancing gender equality more broadly. Yet, existing data and evidence offer a mixed message. Despite stark advances in financial inclusion globally, the gender gap in access to finance remained almost unchanged between 2011 and 2017.  This paper aims to review the existing evidence, develop a conceptual framework for investigating specific mechanisms, and highlight promising topics for future research as part of the WEE-DiFine Initiative’s effort to catalyze and deepen our collective understanding of the relationship between DFS and WEE in low and middle income countries.

Themes: Digital Payment Ecosystems, Financial Inclusion, Women’s Empowerment