“Women are disproportionately excluded from accessing resources and opportunities,” the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Reza Baqir, stated during a webinar while underscoring the need for targeted measures to improve the financial inclusion of women in the country.
The Governor SBP remarked that the strategies for achieving financial inclusion have an implicit assumption of utilizing all citizens — both men and women — as a driving agent to achieve national development goals.
The webinar titled ‘Consultative Dialogue on SBP’s Banking on Equality Policy’ was hosted by the World Bank, and was aimed at learning about gender-responsive policies from global leaders and their experiences with gender financial inclusion in the context of a developing country. Several renowned experts participated in the webinar and shared their experiences of gender mainstreaming aiding the consultative phase of the SBP’s gender policy.
The webinar was also attended by the Global Director of the World Bank, Caren Grown; the President and CEO of the Women’s World Banking Mary Ellen Iskenderian; the President Director of Bank OCBC NISP Indonesia, Parwati Surjaudaja; the Vice President of the World Bank for the South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer; and the Vice President IFC for Asia and Pacific, Alfonso Garcia.
The SBP had launched its consultation process with different national and international stakeholders in December 2020, and also held several focus group discussions with a wide range of domestic stakeholders for the formulation of the desired policy rules.
The new measures are aimed at focusing on equality policy and are targeted at introducing a gender lens within the financial sector via identified pillars and a set of specific measures to bring a shift towards women-friendly business practices.
Baqir said, “It is very pleasing that the SBP team has taken this initiative which identifies practical steps to address this gap through a gender intentional approach in the financial sector”.
Parwati Surjaudaja detailed how her bank in Indonesia is working towards financially-inclusive policies and how Pakistan can learn from Indonesia’s success in the matter. She highlighted that since both countries have growing Islamic banking markets, the model of Indonesian banking may be replicated in Pakistan through Islamic banking as well.
The financial inclusion policy will be reviewed in line with the feedback from these international experts and from Pakistani stakeholders, and is expected to be formally launched in March.