The past few years have witnessed the benefits of financial inclusion extending to more and more sections of society. However, despite the seeing a positive change with more people opening bank accounts; gender disparity still continues. The number of women opening or owning a bank account is far less than that of men. Nevertheless, the numbers have observed a steady increase over the years, which is a positive sign. According to World Bank’s 2017 Global Findex database, in 2011, just 47 percent of women in the world had a bank account in their name. But, by 2014, the percentage had increased to 58, and in 2017 a healthy 65 percent women were owning a bank account. This shows that financial inclusion is reaching out to women and hopefully the percentage will continue to rise.
Though there has been a marked improvement, the numbers are not uniform across the globe. In some countries/regions, the percentage of women owing a bank account is impressive, while in others, it is minuscule, indicating that financial inclusion still has a long way to go. Women residing in the Euro area countries are much better placed than their counterparts in other parts of the world. In the Euro area, 89 percent women had access to a bank account in 2011. The percentage rose to 94 percent in 2014 and remained static in 2017. On the other hand, the percentage of women owning a bank account in the Arab world stood at a measly 14 percent in 2011. It showed a not so impressive improvement reaching 22 percent in 2014, and finally 26 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, the increase has been stupendous in South Asia. From a paltry 24 percent women owning a bank account in 2011, the figure rose to 38 percent in 2014 and shot up to 64 percent in 2017, which shows that efforts are being made to bring women under the umbrella of financial inclusion in South Asian countries.
There are just a few countries where the percentage of women owning a bank account stands at 100 percent. Barring Canada, which is in North America, rest of these countries are in Europe and include – Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Meanwhile the US, UK, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, and Iran are some countries where the percentage stands at 90 and above.
Meanwhile, in countries such as South Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, women still have a long way to go as only 5, 7 and 7 percent of the women own a bank account in these countries. Meanwhile, in countries such as India, financial inclusion is reaching out to women as the percentage of women who own a bank account has witnessed a steep rise over the years. In 2011, only 26 percent women had access to a bank account in India, but in 2017, the figure stood at an impressive 77 percent.