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Global Banking Alliance for Women to close gender data gap in finance

Staff writer |
The Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) announced a partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Data2X to expand the collection and use of financial data on women in economies around the world.

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The Global Banking Alliance for Women is a consortium of financial institutions driving women's wealth creation. Its 42 member institutions work in more than 135 countries.

The commitment was announced at an event in New York headlined by speakers Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Michael R. Bloomberg, prior to a panel moderated by Chelsea Clinton. The initiative aims to close the gender data gap in the banking sector, leading to greater financial inclusion and empowerment of women.

Women around the world face a large access gap when it comes to the financial sector. There is an estimated $300 billion credit shortfall for women-owned micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in emerging economies (McKinsey), largely due to a lack of quality data on the female economy.

Increasing access to and use of sex-disaggregated data will solidify the business case for serving women, creating a commonsense business incentive for banks to target women as a market.

"The cost of lack of information can be high. In Latin America and the Caribbean, up to 70% of women-owned SMEs report unserved or underserved credit needs. Yet 85% of bankers surveyed think that women-owned SMEs are well-served by the banking system, despite the fact that most banks don't collect and use gender-disaggregated data. This huge gap in perceptions between the suppliers and demanders of credit essentially stems from a data gap," said Nancy Lee, General Manager of the IDB's Multilateral Investment Fund.

"This initiative will help us address this gap. It will help banks reach new creditworthy clients and women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and create more jobs."

The GBA, an international consortium of financial institutions focused on building women's wealth worldwide, is the industry leader in the promotion of Women's Market data in the financial services sector. The organization is partnering with the IDB and Data2X to develop an approach to data collection that will further increase adoption and use of sex-disaggregated data by financial institutions.

The initiative will begin in early 2015 with a Data Working Group made up of experts from key stakeholder bodies, including banks, regulators, development finance institutions and others involved in promoting full financial inclusion for women.

"Data2X prioritizes data gaps that affect large numbers of women and girls and that are particularly relevant for policy," said Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow at the UN Foundation.

"One of the key gender data gaps Data2X found in its research is in the area of women's access to finance. This partnership is so important because it will close data gaps that are standing in the way of women's economic inclusion."

The group will work to iron out the challenges and opportunities of sex disaggregating data for banks. Recommendations for what data should be collected and proposals for how best to support this will be presented and discussed at a Global Data Symposium, to take place September 2015 in S?o Paulo, Brazil, coinciding with the 2015 GBA Annual Summit, which will be hosted by Itaú Unibanco. Lessons learned will be integrated, and the final recommendations will be adopted by key international stakeholders.

"What is not measured does not get done. Banks in the GBA offer women entrepreneurs training and networking opportunities as well as finance, and they do so profitability. By sharing that information, we will motivate other banks to take on this incredible business opportunity and close the gender gap in access to finance worldwide," said GBA Chief Executive Officer Inez Murray.

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