Women hold only 27% of total bank accounts in Pakistan
Women in Pakistan hold a total of 14.5 million active bank accounts, which is only 27% of the total number of active accounts in Pakistan. The bulk, 73% or 37.8 million of the total 53.2 million accounts, is reserved for men.
The State Bank published these figures in a guidance note on gender mainstreaming titled âEquality Bank: Closing the Gender Gap in Financial Inclusionâ. The Bank aims to reduce the gender gap in financial inclusion and improve women’s access to financial services. The policy was unveiled Friday by President Arif Alvi at an event in Aiwan-e-Sadr.
State Bank Governor Dr Reza Baqir said closing the gender gap in financial inclusion remained a priority. The first step is bank accounts. And advances in branchless banking have helped improve access to finance for people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, without the added cost of building brick-and-mortar structures.
âAs a result, as of December 2020, 62% of adults have a bank account showing significant growth compared to 45% in 2017,â he said. âAs part of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, a target has been set to ensure that at least 20 million women must have an active bank account by 2023.â
âHowever, despite the overall growth in financial inclusion, the gender gap has continued to persist,â Baqir said. As of December 2020, only 14.5 million active accounts were owned by women, compared to 38.7 million active accounts held by men.
The SBP recently introduced a framework for banks so that customers can open accounts digitally without having to visit branches. It also has simpler documents. Baqir said the framework helps self-employed or unemployed women, freelancers and women who receive remittances digitally.
Related: State Bank Focusing On Women Could Boost Pakistani Economy
SBP Deputy Governor Sima Kamil said women, especially in Pakistan, face distinct barriers to accessing formal financial services. The BoE policy is the first gender mainstreaming policy in the financial sector, which will introduce a gender perspective into our policies and practices.
The BoE’s policy identifies five key pillars:
1. Improve gender diversity in financial institutions and their access points;
2. Development and marketing of women-centered products and services;
3. Creation of women’s counters in bank branches;
4. Robust collection of sex-disaggregated data and setting of targets;
5. Institutionalize a gender policy forum at the SBP
Financial institutions are required to increase female staff to at least 20% by December 2024. To improve relationships between women in retail, branchless banking providers should be tasked with increasing the number female BB agents at 10% in their agent portfolios.
Likewise, dedicated and trained female champions will be placed in 75% of all banks to help guide clients by June 2024. Additionally, all banks will provide gender awareness training to their staff, both men and women. , to eliminate implicit gender bias and improve their understanding of the demands of female customers.
For his part, President Arif Alvi said the government recognizes the financial inclusion of women as a key driver to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
The president added that the government policy is to promote the inclusion of women by providing equitable opportunities to access financial services to all segments of the population.
He praised the efforts of the SBP and expressed his hope that a policy of setting up an equality bank would help mainstream the financial inclusion of women as part of the strategic priorities of financial institutions through objectives. binding.
He said the Ehsaas government’s flagship program incorporates Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of a âOne Woman, One Bank Accountâ policy.
Details of Banking on Equality can be found at https://www.sbp.org.pk/BOE/index.html