Gender Responsive Investment Handbook

Addressing the Barriers to Financial Access for Women's Enterprise

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Women account for between 25-40 per cent of SMEs worldwide and their earning power is estimated to reach US$18 trillion by 2014 – more than double the estimated 2014 GDP of China and India combined. Yet there remain structural and cultural barriers to the effective delivery of financial services to women in the global marketplace, meaning that a high percentage is unbanked and receive a low proportion of credit. As women entrepreneurs grow in number, they need financial products and services beyond microfinance and gender responsive budget initiatives that will allow them to expand their businesses.

Gender Responsive Investment is a process of ensuring gender-equitable access to financial services and investment resources through rigorous assessment of the differing needs of women and men. It recognises that a more equitable allocation of resources will make a greater impact on sustainable economic development, with long-term benefits for the whole economy.

This Handbook supports policy-makers to identify the policies, laws and regulations that hinder women’s access to finance, and assists financial institutions to identify opportunities to deliver inclusive, well-designed products and services for women.



State of the Policy Environment

Discourse around the critical linkages between poverty reduction, growth and financing for development from a gender perspective has been prevalent for decades. Yet, notwithstanding the studies, debates, agreements and measures to stimulate and finance development, progress on gender equitable access to finance remains slow. Global and national finance-related mandates, policies and corresponding programmes and services still reflect significant gender gaps. The policy deficits resulting from the failure to capture women’s and men’s concerns in the regulatory and operational systems guiding the financial sector require closer attention in the aftermath of the 2008–2009 global financial crisis and the current sovereign debt crisis. This chapter examines the gender policy concerns, including gaps and barriers, with a view to increasing the understanding of policy-makers and financial sector operatives on the valuable role inclusive policies can play in encouraging sustainable economic growth.


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