• Gender finance
Mar 16, 2016

In a reflection of the growing commitment with Sustainable Development Goal 5 “gender equality”, the joint application by the GIZ programmes for the “Promotion of the Microfinance Sector in the MENA Region” (MFMR) and to support the Partnership “Making Finance Work for Africa” (MFW4A) has been selected among the best 20 applications for the GIZ Gender Competition 2016.

The GIZ Gender Competition, which is held every two years, is designed to highlight the company’s commitment, wealth of experience and expertise within this field. It provides evidence of good practices among GIZ programmes to promote gender equality. In doing so, GIZ aims to foster innovation, highlight well-proven projects and disseminate good practices for the further improvement of gender competencies.

The winning application is based on the collaboration of MFMR with MFW4A for the initiative to advance women’s access to financial services in MENA. The initiative has aimed at informing policymakers and other stakeholders what could be done to facilitate women’s access to financial services and to achieve better outcomes for men and women alike. Therefore, MFW4A has developed the Policy Brief “Advancing African Women’s Financial Inclusion”, which was presented to policymakers and regulators from the MENA region at the high-level conference on “Financial Inclusion and Employment in the Arab Region” taking place in Jordan in November 2015.

The Africa-wide policy recommendations were brought to the national level in Egypt and discussed with the Central Bank of Egypt, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority and the National Council for Women. The policy brief raised awareness among policymakers, regulators, the private sector and the civil society for women’s distinct financial needs. It has done so by drawing on lessons learnt from countries in Sub-Sahara Africa where MFW4A has accompanied similar reform processes in cooperation with New Faces New Voices (NFNV) – a pan-African advocacy group for women in finance.

Experience has shown that a national leader championing the policy initiative is vital and necessary to drive the process towards greater financial inclusion of women. It is important to have role models and innovative ideas that are promoted. This is why GIZ together with Sanabel promotes the development of innovative financial services for women in the Arab Countries. The annual GIZ/Sanabel Award recognizes microfinance institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to enhance women’s access to financial services. Last year, eight MFIs representing Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Yemen submitted their applications. After a rigorous selection process, the award was granted to Al Amal Microfinance Bank from Yemen and Dakahlia Businessmen Association for Community Development (DBACD) from Egypt. Al Amal Bank focused on rural women in Yemen through products designed specifically to meet their needs while using innovative delivery channels. DBACD focused on enhancing their own products to meet the emerging needs of women as well as providing financial literacy training.

Building on this success and keeping up the momentum policymakers’ and development partners’ increased attention for women’s empowerment in finance, business and society, MFMR is taking the lead in organizing a high-level policy forum on “Advancing Women’s Financial Inclusion in the MENA Region” that will take place in November 2016.

The GIZ Gender Competition this year embraced an overwhelming number of 87 high quality submissions from around the globe, showing the significance of gender equality at GIZ. The twenty winning applications will be published and presented during the Gender Week and at the Award Ceremony at GIZ Headquarters on 7 March 2016. Congratulations to our colleagues from MFMR and MFW4A.

by Meherechane Nayel