A former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday called for policies that would ensure that more women are brought into the financial system.
According to her, including more women in the financial system could add about 10 to 12 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking in Lagos at a Diamond Bank partnership programme with Women’s world banking counsel for Africa, an initiative focused on women’s economic empowerment, financial inclusion and gender diversity in Africa, the former minister said reports had shown that two billion people were excluded from financial inclusion. Furthermore, she said it had been argued that including 1.6 billion of them can raise local GDP by six percent by 2025.
She pointed out that part of the number to be included, more than half (808million) of them are women.
“So, they have done a study to show that including women and people financially can actually raise growth. The study also shows that countries with low women inclusion for example Ethiopia, Nigeria etc it can even add more to the GDP growth like 10- 12 per cent higher than the global number.”
She added: “I think we should look at the opportunity women financial inclusion can bring. We need to look at the barriers that we are going to remove to include more women because they are going to make the economy grow and when you are struggling, you are going to look at any growth opportunity you have.”
The newly appointed member of the International Advisory panel of Asian Infrastructure stated that it was important to make a business case as to why including women, empowering women will greatly improve bottom lines. To this end she said, central banks have a key role to play.
In his welcome address during the session MD/ CEO Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie stated that since its inception 25years ago, Diamond bank has consistently sought to make a difference by making inroads into areas that have posed a formidable challenge to other financial institutions.
He further stated that key areas for the bank currently include retail banking and financial inclusion especially among women and girls to ensure they have access to the financial tools and resources they require to achieve security and prosperity.
Also, the President and CEO Women’s World Banking, Mary Ellen Iskenderian said the event was part of efforts to gather thought leaders determined to bring more women to financial empowerment in Africa