7 April 2021 / Analysis
Access to technology and capital closes gender gap in least developed countries
By Nandini Harihareswara, senior adviser and lead focal point on gender equality, UN Capital Development Fund’s inclusive digital economies division
UNCDF's Nandini Harihareswara outlines five ways to increase women’s participation in growing digital economies
Female entrepreneurs face barriers in accessing financial services due to a number of factors: the lack of access to productive assets that could be used as collateral; time and mobility constraints that affect their ability to interact with financial service providers; lack of trust in financial institutions; gender-biased credit scoring; discriminatory laws and social norms; and gender stereotyping in investment evaluations.
These realities result in a financial services gender gap for women in the least developed countries (LDCs).
A central cause of this is a technology gap. Tech can play an essential role in financial inclusion by serving as the critical tool – notably mobile phones and access to internet – to connect women to financial services and products.
Unfortunately, it is the lack of access to technology that is often a barrier to women’s economic participation and entrepreneurship in the LDCs. This gap – where women are 12% less likely to own a phone than men – ultimately translates into financial disparity.