Financial inclusion proposal in the pipeline

By Patricia Kapulula-Mana.Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare and other partners are in the process of developing a financial proposal for financial inclusion of women which will be used as a tool to reduce the gap on female inclusion in financial institutions.The proposal is being developed by ministries of Gender, Agriculture and Finance as well as UN Women.Minister of Gender, Patricia Kaliati, disclosed the development in Lilongwe on Saturday during a press briefing to commemorate Pan African Women’s Day (PAWD).PAWD is being commemorated under the theme ‘Financial Inclusion for Women, Challenges and Opportunities.’The occasion’s commemoration falls on July 31. Its first conference was held in Dar es Salam, Tanzania in 1962 when the African Union agreed to be commemorating the day every year.Kaliati said instruments such as the financial proposal, offers hope of making a great difference and impact on changing the landscape of financial inclusion for Malawi despite the challenges faced.She cited challenges such as difficult access to formal financial services by the underprivileged who do not have banking service; lower literacy levels for most women compared to their male counterparts and limited access to finance among others.The minister said the Government of Malawi has put in place strategies to expand women’s participation in accessing financial services to address the gender gap that exists between men and women in financial inclusion.“Despite the challenges, Malawi has a conducive environment for women financial inclusion.“The policy regulatory situation in Malawi is good and a range of laws and policies have been introduced to expand access to and usage of financial services,” she explained.Kaliati cited the deliberate move of the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) to have a specific window for women called ‘Women Economic Fund Portfolio’ as one of the strategies for women financial inclusion.Chairperson of African Women Leaders Network and Executive Director for Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC), Emma Kaliya, emphasized the need for a strong mechanism in improving financial inclusion.“Government should invest in measures on financial inclusion by removing barriers that restrict women from accessing loans due to issues of collateral,” she said.Chairperson for NGOGCN, Barbara Banda, concurred with Kaliya, saying women are disenfranchised from financial inclusion, especially in acquiring loans, hence the need for enhancing financial inclusion to achieve gender equality.On his part, Chairperson for Men for Gender Equity Now, Marcel Chisi, said there is need for a deliberate policy in procurement whereby women should be given a specific quota.He said while women are leading in some sectors such as village banks, men are infringing on the women’s rights to economic empowerment.Malawi is commemorating the day with the aim of promoting gender equality, women’s human rights and women’s empowerment.The main aim of focusing on the theme is to improve women’s access to financial and economic sectors; increase opportunities for African women and girls’ entrepreneurs and to reinforce their inclusion in the work place.Mana/pk/thz

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