In recent years, MasterCard has embarked on a number of initiatives to drive women empowerment, as we believe economically empowered women are major catalysts for development. We know an empowered women typically invests their money into their children’s health, nutrition and education which is the ultimate in the investment of a strong future.
According to an IMF Report called Empowering Women is Smart Economics, greater gender equality can enhance economic productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions and policies more representative.
That is why we at MasterCard remain committed to the financial inclusion of women as a key policy to breaking down poverty cycles and creating the opportunities for long-term wealth on the continent. As a tool for economic empowerment, financial inclusion has the potential to help women increase their autonomy, social standing, and the well-being of their households.
In Africa more than 70 percent of women are excluded from formal financial services. While there are a number of factors which contribute to such a high number of unbanked women, the lack of identity is a critical barrier for women seeking to open an account to receive or send money. It also hampers their ability to participate in national elections or owning property.
To enable access to opportunities for African women, MasterCard has partnered with UN Women to assist them in applying for formal identification. The partnership will seek to address this imbalance in an effort to advance gender equality. With the Smart ID, women will be able to access financial services and the support they need to enter the formal economy in Nigeria for the first time. It will mean women entrepreneurs will be able to reduce their dependency on cash and begin a formal savings programme.
The project being piloted in Nigeria where more than half a million women will be given the opportunity of receiving a formal identification forms part of our global commitment to include 500 million people to the formal financial sector.
Our commitment to empowering women is also demonstrated through our partnership with Africa Women Leadership Network, a partnership that works towards broadening access to financial services which will mobilise greater household savings, marshal capital for investment, and enable more women to invest in themselves and their families.
We firmly believe that the empowerment of women will deliver a more inclusive continent, and strengthen the economies in which we operate hence our collaboration with Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF). This initiative is a collaborative effort which aims to support 1500 women entrepreneurs by providing them with technology and skills-enhancements.
Women Empowerment is one of MasterCard’s passion points, and it’s through our developments, agreements and drives that we hope to bridge the gap in gender inequality in Africa. Building stronger women means a stronger Africa.