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An advocacy hub for digital and financial experts keen on advancing women’s economic empowerment through digital technology was launched last week in Addis Ababa.

Dubbed the Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion Advocacy Hub (WDFI), the platform serves for a variety of organizations in Ethiopia to come together to strategize and align efforts to ensure that more women benefit from digital financial services and, ultimately, play an active role in the country’s transition to the digital economy.

Most financial transactions to pay utility bills, receive wages, and get government payments, are still largely cash-based, and women make up a disproportionate share of the millions of Ethiopians who lack access to digital financial services.

According to the Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa Report (2019), an estimated 400 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack digital financial services, and 60% of these individuals are women. Moreover, women in sub-Saharan Africa are 37% less likely to use the mobile Internet compared to men making it one of the regions with the largest mobile use gender gap globally (The Mobile Gender Gap, GSMA, 2021).

Turning the tide of those gender inequalities through joint effort, the Hub aims to provide insights into the state of women’s digital financial inclusion in Ethiopia and develop solutions to advance women’s economic empowerment through digital technology.

Initiated by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Women’s World Banking, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Advocacy Hub aims to ensure that the digital financial inclusion of women is a priority among national, regional, and global decision-makers.

Ethiopia and Indonesia were selected as two priority countries for the first chapter of the local coalitions.

UNCDF believes recent initiatives in Ethiopia to foster the expansion of digital payment services, including the National Financial Inclusion Strategy and the Digital Payment Strategy, have significant potential to create opportunities to ensure that more women can benefit from access to these services.

“The momentum is right to co-create an environment where women in Ethiopia can not only make an informed choice on their financial future but also lift their communities and the national economy,” said Dr. Mariana Lopez, Gender Policy and Advocacy Lead, UNCDF

The coalition members will gain access to training, insights, and financial resources to better understand and address women’s digital financial needs through policy change and smart-product design.

UNCDF, which is calling for Ethiopian civil society and private sector organizations to join the local coalition, will also fund members’ initiatives that have significant potential to accelerate change.

Its to be recalled that UNCDF also facilitated the formation of another group, the Digital Financial Services Working Group, last month. This joint initiative in digital finance aims to bring together digital financial service players in Ethiopia and improve digital financial inclusion was formed this week.

The endeavor comprises members from financial service providers, Fintech companies, Mobile Network Operators, Remittance Service Providers, Pension, and Insurance Providers.

 

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