moderated Re: #ediscussionday2 - partnerships #ediscussionday2

Deena Burjorjee <dburjorjee@...>

Hi Fiona, 

Great discussion so far! It is nice to have some concrete examples to help illustrate what we are talking about when it comes to gender norms affecting our work and the types of interventions that are proving useful in shifting the needle on some of even the stickier norms when it comes to women.

Not surprisingly a lot of the examples come more from women’s economic empowerment programming, and the few examples from the financial inclusion space were spearheaded by mission driven non-profit organizations that have a clear commitment and long history of supporting women’s both access to and benefit from finance.

I think we can all agree that these institutions are no longer the majority of players who are providing services in the financial inclusion space, which I believe is imbedded in Fiona’s earlier assumptions on the need for partnerships. Getting these commercial actors to even think about women as a legitimate market opportunity (the never ending need to make the business case) is itself a challenge and getting FSPs to take a client centric approach, with customer journey mapping and collection of sex disaggregated data is still an uphill battle. Expecting commercial actors, like banks and other for profit entities, to start thinking about and addressing deeply entrenched gender social norms will be a real stretch, unless of course, they have a partner willing to finance the journey (back to the importance of partnerships).

Some interesting work that I have been involved in lately has been around gender diversity and inclusion with commercial financial service providers (MFIs and savings and loans associations). This process of gender assessments and capacity building with senior management and boards is itself is a process of norms change, as we slowly break down unconscious biases that work to limit women’s economic potential both as employees and clients, through objective analysis of institutional and market data. What I like so much about this work is that it doesn’t limit the exploration and challenge of gender norms to the level of the individuals (poor women who are held back by themselves, their husbands or communities) but also starts to ask institutions to reflect on their own assumptions and actions and how they may be inadvertently reinforcing or even perpetuating negative gender based norms in their own practices.


Deena M. Burjorjee
FinEquity, Co-Facilitator

Tel: +01- 347-515-8273
Skype: dburjorjee


On Jun 12, 2019, at 1:59 PM, bgray@... wrote:

Fiona, on your assumption # 1, I'm not refuting it. Even as  I think about this,  our most interesting findings come through multiple organizations being on a similar path together. But in Burkina for example, I could imagine that the credit union providing formal financial services to savings groups facilitated by NGOs still stays within the financial services sector and I think we've seen how they all think differently about "women's empowerment" after working together on an initiative about resilience and women's empowerment...but I think we all had to experience it together through the lessons we learned. What I found interesting is that by the time our project wrapped up, even those who've been working with women's savings groups and women's village banks for decades made comments like, "we need to think about how to involve men", "we should consider offering products to the household", "because we knew men were using women's credit, we added the husbands financial needs to the application." So whether this fits with what you were describing above, I think the collective learning is important, for sure. Maybe the bigger question is what a financial institution is willing to take on versus do with partnering. 
Bobbi L. Gray
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On Wed, Jun 12, 2019 at 12:43 PM Fiona Jarden via Uncdf.Dgroups.Io <> wrote:

For those interested in the partnership thread, let me kick off the conversation by saying…

I support Assumption 1: ‘Financial products and services can shift gender norms to promote women’s financial inclusion, but only when solutions are designed and/or delivered in partnership with others’.

We know gender norms are deeply entrenched and really difficult to shift, and I don’t think any financial inclusion approach/organization that even budged gender norms a little bit was able to do that alone.  But I would love to hear if you know examples otherwise! However the more successful approaches to my mind have been designed or delivered through cross-sector partnerships. 


Here’s three examples I can think of:

1.       There’s an interesting  digital sub-wallet innovation coming out of Western Uganda, developed through a dynamic partnership between Postbank Uganda, CARE International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and DoubleXEconomy. In Western Uganda it’s normal for men to make decisions for the household including about finance. The approach deliberately engaged men and families with the goal to increase the financial autonomy and empowerment of women. The sub-wallet enables women customers to divvy up their money and allocate funds toward goals based on how they prefer to save and use money. To increase women’s agency over how the money is spent, women enrolled in Village Savings and Loan Associations, and their partners and household members were encouraged to participate in household dialogues. Last I heard implementation might be still ongoing though some of the early outcomes were more joint planning.


2.       Building on the conversation earlier today about the role of the media to shape behaviour, here’s a nice example from Women’s World Banking. Their market research in Kenya highlighted the range of social norms which were blocking Kenyan women from opening bank accounts. Barriers ranged from a lack of familiarity with banks amongst potential or existing female customers which made the thought of banking there intimidating, and also misperceptions about the cost of having a bank account. WWB worked with a team of Kenyan partners to test an innovative social communications strategy: using a popular TV show to help change social attitudes about banking. Results were impressive. About 138,000 more low-income women reported having a bank account after watching the show. You can read more about it here.


3.       Gender lens investing is also an interesting space to explore when thinking about partnerships. Development Finance Institutions including development banks are super interested in investing in financial institutions willing to go beyond just supporting women’s access to financial services, but looking for gender smart investments that might support women to use and benefit from financial services. These cases are definitely a collaboration, not just a one-way investment. Check out this innovative partnership between the Dutch development bank FMO and Access Bank PLC, investing in a women’s market programme.

Looking forward to hearing from others

Are cross-sector partnerships essential for challenging gender norms that impede women’s financial inclusion?

Share your thoughts, weigh in on whether you agree or refute with the assumptions shared in the post below (or anything else you’d like to discuss on the topic), and why? 



From: finequity.snediscussion@... <finequity.snediscussion@...> On Behalf Of Fiona Jarden via Uncdf.Dgroups.Io
Sent: woensdag 12 juni 2019 18:25
To: finequity.snediscussion@...
Subject: [finequity.snediscussion] #ediscussionday2 - partnerships


Hello everyone and welcome to session three of Day 2 of this e-discussion series

Thanks so much for joining us.
My name is Fiona Jarden, Senior Financial Inclusion Advisor with the KIT based in Amsterdam and I’ll be your moderator for the next three hours. It’s been great to learn today about what social norm solutions are out there shaping ‘new norms’ in society to promote more women’s financial inclusion (like her access and use) and her greater economic empowerment (like decision making power and control over resources). We heard from our CARE participants today about the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) which not only supported statistically significant increases in women's access to savings and loans, but in Niger VSLA membership helped boost women's political representation and in Burundi the platform helped address child marriage. I also liked learning from Cathleen about TEB Bank in Turkey shaping behavior change through their ‘norm aware’ products.
What struck me about these examples was that they all most certainly involved a partnership approach.  i.e. I’m aware the VSLA example worked with local municipalities, women’s rights organisations, financial service providers and others to shift norms for women's financial inclusion and to support gender equality. 
Focus of the conversation now:
For this session we'd like to hear from you whether partnerships are  essential to going beyond a focus on mere access, to challenge gender norms that impede women’s financial inclusion.  To kick this ‘partnerships’ conversation off, please weigh in on whether you agree or refute with the following assumptions, and why? 
  • Assumption 1: Financial products and services can shift gender norms to promote women’s financial inclusion, but only when solutions are designed and/or delivered in partnership with other sectors.
  • Assumption 2: Governments play a key role in shifting gender norms through national policies, programmes and initiatives, but these initiatives are most effective when designed and implemented with other sectors
  • Assumption 3: Financial inclusion initiatives that aim to shift gender norms that work in isolation are more likely to do harm than good.
  • Or, simply feel free to discuss any aspect of whether partnerships are essential to challenging gender norms for women's financial inclusion. 


If you have the time, please also share some examples, or links so we can learn from your experience and work. To participate, please respond to this email or if you are participating through the d-groups, press the reply button below.

Deena M. Burjorjee
Access Alliance, Inc.

Tel:  +01- 347-515-8273
Skype:  dburjorjee
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