Nigeria’s central bank implements financial inclusion strategy targeted at women

Central bank wants to close financial services gender gap by 2024

The Central Bank of Nigeria has designed a framework to improve the level of financial inclusion for women, focusing on increasing the number of women who own bank accounts.

“Developing a women-specific strategy stems from the recognition that it is important to treat women as a critically important and distinct customer group, rather than as a subset of a broader group,” the central bank’s report says.

A recent survey found that while women’s exclusion from financial services has dropped, the gender gap has grown; men’s inclusion has improved more rapidly than women’s, the central bank said.

Only 58.9% of women have access to financial services in Nigeria in comparison to 67.4% of men. More starkly, only 16.3% are likely to save at a bank and less than 6% have a pension. The central bank wants to close this gender gap by 2024.

To do this, the central bank has outlined a number of measures – including the expansion of national identity numbers (NIN) to all women – to combat the problem. The central bank plans to survey the distribution of NIN, needed to open bank accounts, so it can drive registration accordingly.

Among other initiatives, the central bank is also going to roll out a dedicated financial literacy programme for women and revise the regulatory framework to ensure women can seek services “closer to home”. To do this, the central banks will work with financial firms to expand their services to more rural locations.

In the short term, the aim of the framework is to remove barriers for women to open and own bank accounts. Building on this, the central banks hopes to then boost the rate of women using financial services more broadly.

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