Access to Finance Rwanda launch report on gendered social norms, financial inclusion
Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) has launched a report titled “Gendered Social Norms Diagnostic and their Impact on Women’s Financial Inclusion in Rwanda.”
The new report aims to show how social norms impact women entrepreneurs’ financial inclusion compared to their male counterparts and suggest ways financial services and delivery channels can be designed to enhance women’s financial inclusion.
It was unveiled at an event held at Marriott Kigali, on May 3, as part of AFR’s LEAD (Learn, Engage, Act, and Develop) series themed: “Breaking Gendered Social Norms Restricting Women’s Financial Inclusion.”
The report explored four widely held social norms affecting women entrepreneurs: prioritizing family over the business; relying on family for financial support instead of financial service providers; not having financial privacy from their spouse or male household member; and men as better managers of finances.
The report found that social norms influence market actors’ behavior, driving women’s financial inclusion or exclusion, and that women entrepreneurs’ ability to grow their businesses is constrained by gender norms.
The study found that these norms are upheld at multiple levels within society and particularly impacted by age and marital status. Negative influencers mentioned include the women entrepreneur’s husband, parents-in-law, religious leaders, and neighbors. The study also noted that the norms are stickier in rural areas, with severe sanctions, while in urban areas, the norms are more relaxed.
Speaking at the event, Jean Bosco Iyacu, Chief Executive Officer of AFR, emphasized the importance of designing financial products that cater to the specific requirements of diverse individuals and their unique challenges. He urged financial sector players to avoid being gender blind and instead design gender-specific policies and products that address the financial needs of women entrepreneurs.
The Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, Soraya Munyana Hakuziyaremye, highlighted the persistent gender financial gap, which stands at 7% in Rwanda. For instance, 74% of women in the country have access to formal financial services, compared to 81% men, she stated. She urged various institutions, commercial and non-commercial, to collaborate in addressing the issue.
Floride Mukarugema and Chantal Nyiramahirwe, both local business owners in Bugesera and Rwamagana districts respectively, shared their personal experiences of facing obstacles in their entrepreneurial pursuits due to gendered social norms.
They emphasized that by achieving success and paving the way for future women entrepreneurs, they can gradually change people’s mindsets. They also highlighted the fact that women continue to face barriers, such as collateral requirements and reliance on the family for financial support.
Rose Rwabuhihi, Chief Gender Monitor at the Gender Monitoring Office, urged women to be proactive and take advantage of existing financial products and opportunities.
She emphasised the importance of embracing technology and digital finance tools and educating oneself about them. Rwabuhihi stressed the need to increase accountability not just among experts and activists, but also within families and communities.
The report recommended that in addressing the constraints faced by women entrepreneurs, it is important to invest collectively in addressing the root causes, particularly to transform negative norms resulting in conscious or unconscious bias that restrict women’s financial inclusion.
The study focused on women entrepreneurs aged 16-30 years (young women) and 31-55 years (adult women), single and married, in the districts of Rubavu (representing urban), Nyagatare, and Burera (both representing rural) with cross-border trade activities in the three districts.
It was a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, the Gender Monitoring Office, the National Bank of Rwanda, the Ministry of Local Government, the Rwanda Men’s Resource Center (RWAMREC), the Rwanda Women’s Network, and other Civil Society Organizations in Rwanda.
The Chief Gender Monitor, Rose Rwabuhihi, speaks at the launch of the ‘Gendered Social Norms Diagnostic and Their Impact on Women’s Financial Inclusion’ report.
Chief Executive Officer of AFR,Jean Bosco Iyacu,addressing during the launch in Kigali on May 4 2023
The event served as an opportunity to highlight the need to pave the way for the future of women entrepreneurs.
Participants during a panel discussion.
Source The New Times