ENP Newswire -
Release date- 14072014 - Opening remarks by Dr
Your Excellences, High Commissioners and Ambassadors to
The United Nations Development Programme Country Director, Ms
The African Development Bank Country Representatives; Dr
Representatives from the International labour Organisation (ILO);
New Faces, New Voices Representative, Ms
Chairpersons of the Boards of Commercial Banks,
Chief Executive Officers of
Senior Staff and Colleagues from
Members of the Press;
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my honour and privilege to welcome you all to this conference on Women's Financial Inclusion in
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Conference is a dissemination and consultation forum aimed at presenting and reviewing the findings of a study on 'Women's Access to Financial Services in
Ladies and Gentlemen, Specifically, the study is expected to provide in depth understanding on the following two perspectives:
1. Understanding gender perspectives on usage of financial services; levels and trends, sources of finance; formal, semi-formal and informal, financial products provided; credit, savings, insurance, remittances, mobile banking and other financial products and services. The regional distribution; rural versus urban and the awareness versus understanding and perceptions of access to finance, the constraints, opportunities for financial education, financial decision making process, and household dynamics that confront women.
2. Understanding the types of financial products and services available in terms of; - the types of providers, the services which are regularly or less frequently used, services which are paid for and for how much, and challenges in accessing the financial products and services.
Financial inclusion for the majority of our people, especially women, is a corner stone of our financial sector development. The Honourable Minister of Finance in his 2014 National Budget address, set the stage by emphasising the need to accelerate broad based growth, diversification of the economy and the entrenchment of social justice so that all Zambians, rural or urban, male or female, young or old and including the differently abled, benefit from and contribute to national development.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been reported at various fora that our women continue to face challenges in accessing financial products and services. These barriers range from cultural, legal, financial and sometimes religious discrimination among others. However, access to finance and financial services in general, has in the recent past been cited as a major challenge to the participation of women in economic development. As you are aware, finance can be looked at as the oil that lubricates smooth economic growth and therefore any impediments to accessing this important resource has an adverse impact on the country's economic growth prospects. The Study and this Conference have come at an opportune time when we are focusing on enabling all Zambians to be empowered financially and ultimately economically so that we reduce the high levels of poverty in the country. I have no doubt that the findings of the study, will stimulate profound discussions which will shape the efforts going forward on financial inclusion and promulgate the financial inclusion agenda to all Zambians.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, It will, however, take deliberate policies and long-term commitment from all stakeholders beyond the study for us to ensure financial inclusion of women. It will further require constant review of the policies, re-assessment of priorities, and adequate financial resources to effectively implement interventions to promote women's access to finance. This entails integration of gender-specific perspectives at the design stage of policies and programmes to provide for inclusion of clauses more equitable access to financial assets and services by women.
In the past few decades, the state of the financial sector in
The Government of the
Ladies and Gentlemen, the strong economic performance has culminated in growth in both the number of financial services providers and the financial products in the country. However, the level of financial inclusion still needs to be broadened further. The evidence from the FinScope Demand Surveys revealed that as at 2009 only 37 per cent of the adult Zambian population was financially included. This signified a 3.6 per cent marginal increase from 33.7 per cent in the 2005 survey. The FinScope study further revealed that access to finance for women was relatively poor in relation to their male counterparts. This study being presented today is, therefore, a welcome opportunity to reflect on the progress since 2009.
Financial institutions have a role to play in ensuring financial services and products are available at reasonable terms, including fair and practical know your customer (KYC) assessments, the use of alternative collateral and flexible lines of credit to mention, but a few. To enhance income-generating activities from survival level to strong and viable businesses, in particular for women led enterprises, access to credit, banking and financial services and facilities is essential to fully develop small scale to businesses. The firm, robust and sustainable growth can only be founded on strong and viable
Ladies and Gentlemen, Allow me to outline some of the measures the Bank has been putting in place to accelerate access to finance for all citizens generally, and in particular for women
The development of the FSDP and its implementation, therefore, reflects the priority attached by the Government to this important endevour. It's also worth noting that the
Ladies and Gentlemen, the strategies under this objective include the following:
Developing an index to measure the depth and breadth of financial services in
Promoting agency banking and mobile banking;
Developing a framework for branchless banking.
Establishing a unified collateral registry framework;
Undertaking financial education interventions;
Revising legal and regulatory framework to promote financial inclusion; and
Developing incentive mechanisms to encourage outreach of financial services to rural areas and other financially excluded citizens.
The Financial Education Coordinating Unit (FECU) has been established at the Bank to spearhead the financial literacy campaign across the country.
In addition, it has now become easier to access banking services through lower bank account opening balance, improved payments systems through mobile banking, e-money and increased numbers of Automated Teller Machines and Point of Sale terminals.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the
The tool also assists financial service providers to develop appropriate strategies to extend their outreach to women entrepreneurs as well as develop products to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. In this collaborative exercise, ILO has since facilitated capacity building within the
Commercial Banks have been expected to utilize the tool and use the results to tailor services and products that reach out to women. However progress made in this area could be improved. There is an urgent need therefore to reinvigorate the
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me remind you that
May I take this opportunity to thank the partners who financed and supported the study and conference: Financial Sector Deepening Zambia Germany Cooperation/GIZ, New Faces New Voices, and Making Finance Work for
Ladies and gentlemen, as I wish you all a successful conference, it is now my honour and privilege to declare the conference officially opened.
I thank you.
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