Oxford, England – Women’s World Banking, in partnership with the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), welcome 33 leaders from 20 central banks and other regulatory bodies from emerging countries this week to Oxford University to kick off its nine-month Leadership and Diversity Program for Regulators.
The program, funded by Visa Foundation, is taught by Women’s World Banking and faculty from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and set up together with AFI. The program equips participants with leadership tools and skills to advance financial inclusion policy initiatives for women and build more gender-diverse teams and leaders within their respective institution. It is designed to strengthen the role central bankers, regulators and policymakers play in creating an environment that promotes the financial inclusion of women by building a more robust pipeline of women leaders and developing specific policies to support gender efforts in national financial inclusion strategies.
A senior official from each institution identifies a high-potential woman leader in its organization to go through the program together. The senior official identifies a policy initiative related to serving the women’s market, such as implementing tiered Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations to facilitate easier access for women to open bank and mobile money accounts or national efforts to build women’s financial and digital capabilities. The senior official then works with his or her high-potential woman leader to implement the initiative while simultaneously supporting her professional development during and after the program.
“We’re thrilled to launch this program in order to build more inclusive policies while also developing more women leaders in regulatory bodies,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “Policymakers have an essential role in building a more secure and prosperous world for everyone. This program will provide the tools to accelerate those efforts.”
At Oxford University, participants will engage in roundtables, classroom trainings and policy forums to develop the skills to create an enabling environment for women’s financial inclusion and the tools to advance women leaders within their institutions. Additional virtual touchpoints occur throughout the year with the program culminating with a capstone project presentation during the 2019 AFI Global Policy Forum in Kigali, Rwanda in September.
Gender and women’s financial inclusion in AFI is spearheaded by the adoption and effective implementation of the Denarau Action Plan, which calls on the AFI membership to halve the financial inclusion gender gap in their respective jurisdictions by 2021. AFI member institutions in 32 countries have already articulated national policy commitments on gender and women’s financial inclusion under the Maya Declaration, the only global initiative that encourages national commitments to financial inclusion. However, only 10 percent of these institutions, or 10 out of 104, have females at the helm.“Greater representation of women in the senior leadership levels of central banks and financial regulatory institutions and changing the mindset are crucial for advancing gender-sensitive policy making and achieving AFI’s commitments on closing the gender gap and women’s financial inclusion,” said Dr. Alfred Hannig, AFI Executive Director.
AFI members understand that equal access to financial services and gender diversity lead to increased economic welfare and enhanced financial stability, Dr Hannig added. He highlighted that “the Leadership & Diversity program supports the drive towards gender diversity and ensures the power we need to push forward the agenda on women’s financial inclusion efforts within our member institutions.”
“Women are key to building a prosperous world, and enabling communities to thrive,” said Bill Sheedy, Chair of the Board, Visa Foundation and Executive Vice President, Visa Inc. “There is no silver bullet, however, to closing persistent gender gaps in access to financial services. Progress begins with women-centric products and policies. We can also leverage technology for innovations that can help women access and use financial services in their local context.”
Participants in the inaugural class include the Central Bank of The Bahamas; Office of the Supervisor of Insurance & Private Pensions, Belize; National Bank of Cambodia; Central Bank of Egypt; Financial Regulatory Authority of Egypt; Bank of Ghana; Bank of the Republic of Haiti; Bank Indonesia; Executive Office of the President of Indonesia; Central Bank of Lesotho; Ministry of Finance and Budget, Madagascar; National Banking and Securities Commission of Mexico; Ministry of Finance of Russia; National Bank of Rwanda; Bank of Zambia; and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Women’s World Banking designs and invests in the financial solutions, institutions and policy environments in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities. With a global reach of 53 partners in 32 countries serving more than 30 million women clients, Women’s World Banking drives impact through its scalable, market-driven solutions; gender-lens private equity fund; and leadership and diversity programs.
Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) is the world leader on financial inclusion policy and regulation. AFI is a member-owned network of over 100 financial inclusion policy-making and regulatory institutions from 90 developing and emerging countries around the world; covering up to 85 percent of the world’s unbanked. AFI promotes and develops evidence-based policy solutions that help improve the lives of an estimated 1.7 billion unbanked, out of which almost 1 billion are women, who do not have access to formal financial services.