New Call to Action: Give women and youth in Eastern Africa access to financial services

We Effect’s annual conference on gender equality and sustainable development in Eastern Africa leads to a call for financial services to become real for women, youth and Persons with Disabilities.

Financial inclusion is an important factor for improving women’s economic empowerment, fighting poverty and promoting sustainable development. But women living in poverty, and other marginalised groups in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda witness on all hinders they face on accessing the financial systems.

This is the conclusion drawn by the participants that attended the 4th Gender Equality for Sustainable Development Conference held in Nairobi 27-29 September 2016. The conference with the theme, Financial Inclusion for Gender Justice, Women Empowerment and Sustainable Development, was organised by We Effects regional office in Eastern Africa and partners and drew 200 participants from nine countries.

During the conference it became clear that the exclusion of women, youth and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Eastern Africa persists despite some good efforts. The participants believe that more must be done by themselves, the financial industry, policy makers and governments. To push for change a communiqué was drafted on the last conference day, calling for the following actions:

  • Governments to form and implement policies addressing the exclusion of women, Youth and PWDs from mainstream financial services.
  • Financial institutions to engage women, youth and PWDs when offering lending services.
  • Researchers to generate data on the special needs of youth, women and PWDs to help the targeting of special interventions as well as tracking success indicators among the beneficiaries.

The communiqué points out the importance of other measures as:

  • Supporting stakeholders to promote culture-changes.
  • Working with financial service providers to include women, youth and PWDs in their services and develop user-centered technology that pays special attention to their needs.
  • Advocating for more systematic gender-responsive budgeting across all sectors.
  • Engaging public and private stakeholders to scale-up financial literacy training for women, youth and PWDs, especially in rural areas.