Globally, only about two-thirds of women own a financial account, compared to about three in four men. In conflict-affected nations, women are 27 percent less likely than men to have a bank account.
We present new estimates that greater mobile phone usage among women is associated with much lower gender gaps in financial inclusion: a percentage point lower gender gap in mobile access is associated with a 0.94 lower percentage point financial inclusion gap. This association is much larger than the effects found for reducing gender gaps in employment.
Our findings highlight the promise of mobile phones to financially include women in fragile and conflict-affected countries. We also address efforts to close mobile phone gaps, design financial services intentionally for women, eliminate legal discrimination, and establish regulatory and policy frameworks that seek to ensure inclusion.
Ultimately, concerted efforts by governments and private sector companies are required to achieve digital financial inclusion and close the gender gap.
Funding for the research and production of this report is made possible by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.